Sacramento Kings 2001-02 Capsule
COACH: Rick Adelman (fourth season, 483-340 overall)
LAST SEASON: 55-27, second in Pacific Division, lost to LA Lakers in conference semifinals
SLAM DUNKS: The Kings salvaged this season over the summer when they signed F Chris Webber (27.1 ppg, 11.1 rpg) to a seven-year deal. Webber is always an MVP candidate but will miss a few weeks due to a sprained left ankle suffered during the preseason. But he is hardly the only weapon on a team loaded with excellent players and up-and-coming talent. Sacramento also re-signed G Doug Christie (12.3, 4.4), who is among the best defensive players in the game and provides a lively, athletic body on both ends of the court. G Peja Stojakovic (20.4, 5.8) is one of the best pure scorers in the league and he's only going to get better with added experience. The biggest key to Sacramento's ability to overcome the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers may be Bibby (15.9, 8.4 apg), who gives the Kings a true point guard that can run the offense. G Hedo Turkoglu (5.3, 2.8 rpg) has a promising future and G Bobby Jackson (7.2, 2.0) is an excellent backup who can play defense and control the offense when Bibby needs rest. C Vlade Divac (12.0, 4.4) is among the most skilled centers in the game, possessing the ability to shoot, handle and pass. F Scot Pollard (6.5, 6.0) is a key player under the boards who can go toe-to-toe with the big guns in the Western Conference and hold his own.
AIRBALLS: A team that had few flaws last season has even less now that Bibby provides them with a legitimate point guard. Sacramento has one of the most lethal offenses in the game, but when you focus so much on scoring, defense always seems to suffer. However, the Kings went from 27th in points allowed in 1999-2000 to 13th last season. Further improvement may also result from Bibby replacing Williams, who was often lifted late in games as a defensive liability.
IN THE ZONE: If it's possible, Sacramento may become even more of a running team, using the rebounding ability of Webber, Divac and Pollard to get Christie, Bibby and co. on the break. When the Kings do get stuck in the half-court, Stojakovic, Bibby, Turkoglu, Divac and Webber can all shoot from the perimeter. Sacramento may be the best overall passing team in the league, which is the key to breaking down zones.
OUTLOOK: The primary goal of every Western Conference team is to overcome the Lakers. Sacramento may be the most well-equipped team to do that. Don't underestimate the addition of one player as Bibby makes Sacramento a much more dangerous team than a year ago. Stojakovic is on the verge of becoming a superstar and the supporting cast is as good as any in the league. As a bonus, the Kings may be the best home team in the NBA.