SI Vault
Jack McCallum
October 28, 2002
They've done fine without Chris Webber, and they can make do without Mike Bibby—at least until they get another shot at the world champs
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October 28, 2002

1 Sacramento Kings

They've done fine without Chris Webber, and they can make do without Mike Bibby—at least until they get another shot at the world champs

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2001-02 record: 61-21 (first in Pacific)
Points scored: 104.6 (2nd)
Points allowed: 97.0 (19th)
Coach: Rick Adelman (fifth season with Kings)



2001-02 KEY STATS


Peja Stojakovic


21.2 ppg

5.3 rpg

1.14 spg

48.4 FG%

41.6 3FG%


Chris Webber


24.5 ppg

10.1 rpg

4.8 apg

1.41 bpg

49.5 FG%


Vlade Divac


11.1 ppg

8.4 rpg

3.7 apg

1.18 bpg

47.2 FG%


Doug Christie


12.0 ppg

4.6 rpg

4.2 apg

1.98 spg

46.0 FG%


Mike Bibby


13.7 ppg

5.0 apg

1.09 spg

45.3 FG%

37.0 3FG%



2001-02 KEY STATS


Bobby Jackson


11.1 ppg

3.1 rpg

2.0 apg

0.90 spg

44.3 FG%


Hedo Turkoglu


10.1 ppg

4.5 rpg

2.0 apg

42.2 FG%

36.8 3FG%


Keon Clark#


11.3 ppg

7.4 rpg

1.1 apg

1.51 bpg

49.0 FG%


Scot Pollard


6.4 ppg

7.1 rpg

0.95 bpg

0.88 spg

55.0 FG%


Gerald Wallace


3.2 ppg

1.6 rpg

0.5 apg

0.35 spg

42.9 FG%

#New acquisition
(R) Rookie (statistics for final college season)
*PVR: Player Value Ranking (explanation on page 92)

Had the broken right foot that will keep point guard Mike Bibby out of action until at least December occurred last season, it would've been bad, but not horrible, news for the Kings. But this year, in the wake of Bibby's star-making performance in last season's playoffs, it seems catastrophic. One could argue that, right now, no other Sacramento player is as valuable as Bibby, including Chris Webber. After all, last season Webber missed 28 games, yet the Kings were 19-9 without their star forward. "Hey, we played without Chris last year, so we can get along without Mike this year," says center Vlade Divac. "Well, for a while, anyway."

Has one player ever been elevated from good to great as quickly as Bibby? Based almost solely upon his play in the postseason—even more specifically, his performance against the Lakers in the Western Conference finals (22.7 points per game)—the 24-year-old Bibby is now routinely rated with the top point guards in the league. He's also being correspondingly paid, having been rewarded in the off-season with a seven-year, $80 million contract. Which raises the question: Is the real Bibby that good? "Of course Mike is that good," Divac declares. "The way he played in the playoffs is what is in his heart and spirit."

Before the playoffs, though, Bibby averaged only 13.7 points and 5-0 assists. Either his postseason was a frightfully brilliant anomaly or it's an instance of a hero emerging at a time when he's most sorely needed. And, boy, was Bibby sorely needed. When franchise co-owner Gavin Maloof made his overheated remark recently that the Kings "could be one of the greatest teams ever," he must have forgotten some of the deficiencies shown by his team in the clutch, most prominently the uncertain marksmanship of players like Webber, shooting guard Doug Christie and forward Peja Stojakovic.

Thus the Kings must do a little tweaking to get by the Lakers. Forward Hedo Turkoglu has added not only blond hair but also 15 weight-room pounds and has made noise about wanting to start ahead of Christie. That probably won't happen early, but the Holy Turk (as backup center Scot Pollard calls him) might steal playing time from Stojakovic, who must do a better job of creating his own shot and demonstrate some kind of low-post game. Meanwhile, minutes have to be found for guard Bobby Jackson, runner-up in last year's voting for best sixth man. (Another potentially disruptive element is Webber's federal court date, yet to be scheduled, on charges of perjury in connection with the money laundering trial of Michigan booster Ed Martin.)

One other change will almost certainly be positive: Lanky free-agent signee Keon Clark will reduce Divac's minutes, at least during the regular season, which is O.K. with Divac. "Of all our main guys," said the 34-year-old Yugoslav, "I'm the only one who can go down in performance."

Not quite true, Vlade. Your wide-eyed point guard now has an injury to come back from and an abundance of expectations to live up to.

[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]