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7 SACRAMENTO KINGS
Phil Taylor
October 30, 2000
They're the league's most entertaining team, but without more D, this show goes nowhere
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October 30, 2000

7 Sacramento Kings

They're the league's most entertaining team, but without more D, this show goes nowhere

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Projected Lineup

STARTERS

PVR*

1999-2000 KEY STATS

SF

Predrag Stojakovic

110

11.9 ppg

3.7 rpg

1.4 apg

44.8 FG%

37.5 3FG%

PF

Chris Webber

5

24.5 ppg

10.5 rpg

4.6 apg

1.71 bpg

48.3 FG%

C

Vlade Divac

58

12.3 ppg

8.0 rpg

3.0 apg

1.26 bpg

50.3 FG%

SG

Doug Christie

83

12.4 ppg

3.9 rpg

4.4 apg

1.40 spg

40.7 FG%

PG

Jason Williams

74

12.3 ppg

7.3 apg

1.44 spg

37.3 FG%

28.7 3FG%

BENCH

PVR*

1999-2000 KEY STATS

G-F

Nick Anderson

145

10.8 ppg

1.31 spg

39.1 FG%

32.2 3FG%

48.7 FT%

G

Bobby Jackson

172

5.1 ppg

2.1 rpg

2.4 apg

40.5 FG%

28.3 3FG%

G

Jon Barry

230

8.0 ppg

2.4 apg

1.21 spg

46.5 FG%

42.9 3FG%

C

Scot Pollard

247

5.4 ppg

5.3 rpg

0.78 bpg

0.72 spg

52.7 FG%

F

Lawrence Funderburke

253

6.4 ppg

3.1 rpg

0.4 apg

52.3 FG%

70.6 FT%

New acquisition
(R) Rookie (statistics for final college year)
*PVR: Player Value Ranking (explanation on page 113)

The purple in the Kings' color scheme has never been more appropriate. That's the hue the faces of Sacramento fans will take on as they hold their breath waiting for power forward Chris Webber, whose contract expires at season's end, to decide about his future. Webber, who led the team in points, rebounds and blocks last year, is widely known as C. Webb, but the Kings' priority is to make sure that they see Webb—in a purple uniform beyond this season, that is.

The Kings' short-term forecast is as unchanging as a Sacramento summer. Once again they will be a high-scoring, sweet-passing, poor-defending unit destined to log more time on the Play of the Day than in the playoffs. After being chained in the league's basement for more than a decade, they have made an impressive ascent from 27-55 in 1997-98 to 44-38 last season, an improvement that coincided with the May '98 acquisition of Webber from the Wizards. That's why much of this season is likely to be spent parsing Webber's words, which have included references to joining Shaquille O'Neal in the Lakers' front-court and playing with Knicks guard Latrell Sprewell, a close friend. Webber served notice on the first day of training camp that scrutinizing his utterances would be fruitless. "Get ready for all the clich�s," he said. "I'm going to wait until the season is over. I don't want to play bad and then want to leave, or play well and then say I want to stay."

Although the Kings can't be sure how much longer Webber will stay, they can at least be reasonably certain about how he'll perform as long as he does, which is more than can be said about flashy point guard Jason Williams. After a turnover-plagued season in which he shot just 37.3% from the floor, Williams violated the league's drug policy in July, which earned him a five-game suspension to start 2000-01. He has been so erratic on and off the court that one of coach Rick Adelman's priorities is to find a reliable alternative. Free-agent pickup Bobby Jackson will get first crack at the point in Williams's early absence; reserve Jon Barry and Doug Christie, acquired from the Raptors for Corliss Williamson, will also take turns there.

They would all be wise to remember that the way to Adelman's heart this year will be playing D. The Kings, who led the league in scoring with 105.0 points per game, were generous to a fault last season, allowing 102.0, an average exceeded only by the Clippers and the Warriors. In Williams, Webber and center Vlade Divac, Sacramento has three of the best passers in the league at their positions, but the Kings sometimes seem so concerned with their offensive creativity that they forget about the other end of the floor. "We can create more havoc on defense than we have in the past," Adelman says. "We want to be more active defensively and not find ourselves reacting to everything."

Unfortunately, Sacramento may not have the personnel to make that approach work. It's telling that Adelman's only better-than-average defenders are newcomers, Christie and Jackson. The Kings may try harder to stop teams, but they'll still have to depend heavily on their offensive firepower to win.

That will work well enough for them to put a scare into their first-round playoff opponent. Still, they'll succumb, as they have in the last two years. Considering their history, that's not a terrible fate. But the comfortable plateau the Kings have reached has a trapdoor, and only Webber can decide whether it will open under their feet.

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

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