Last season the Kings averaged a league-high 24.5 assists and a league-low 13.1 turnovers and were second in scoring (103.7 points per game).
Record: 50-32 (6th in West) Points scored: 103.7 (2nd in NBA) Points allowed: 101.6 (26th) Coach: Rick Adelman (eighth season with the Kings)
The point guard enjoys elite status -- even if his team no longer does
It's early on a September morning, and the Kings' practice facility is nearly empty. The only steady sound comes from the squeak of sneakers on the court, where Mike Bibby is bobbing and weaving around imaginary defenders as he drives to the basket. He repeats the drill a hundred times, maybe more. "When are you going to be done?" asks a friend who has been watching Bibby's one-on-none game for more than an hour.
"Soon," replies Bibby, arguably the game's best shooting point guard. "But I'm going to run after."
Another solitary pursuit, naturally. Other than Bibby, only forward Peja Stojakovic remains from the dynamic 2001-02 team that came within one game of the Finals. Chris Webber, Vlade Divac, Doug Christie and Bobby Jackson have departed, and with them went any hope for a title. As a result the once stable Kings -- the only team besides the Spurs and Mavericks to win at least 50 games in each of the last five seasons -- underwent a Lindsay Lohan-like makeover during the off-season, signing free-agent forward Shareef Abdur-Rahim and acquiring mercurial swingman Bonzi Wells from the Grizzlies.
One element about the Kings that hasn't changed is coach Rick Adelman's commitment to a motion offense that places a premium on big men who can pass. While Abdur-Rahim is a reliable low-post scorer, he hardly rivals Divac or Webber as an assist man. Bibby expects it'll take the newcomers a while to adjust to the nuances of their new offense. "When I first came here, balls were hitting me in the head going into the key," he says. "Some guys think if they pass it, they're not going to get the ball back. That's not the way it works here. If you're open, you're going to get the ball." -- Arash Markazi