If Mike Bibby were in a Cleveland Cavaliers jersey right now, the world would be talking about how great he is. A fearless shooter from deep, a smart decision-maker, a prime offensive talent.
Mike Bibby's in a Sacramento Kings jersey, and the only thing people wonder about him is whether he'll be a King next winter.
His March has been fantastic. With the exception of Sunday's eruption, it's flown completely under the radar. He's shooting .438 percent this month - not great shakes, but much better than his dreary November .361 mark. From three (which is where he takes 40% of his shots), he's hitting .456 in March. That's incredible.
Bibby dug himself a hole last year, starting off poorly and never fully recovering despite improvement over the course of the season. This whole was too big to overcome, it seems. Bibby won't get to the magical 20 ppg mark by April 18 - hell, he might not make it to 18 ppg. (He's at 17.6 today.) His season FG% has gotten above .400 (a minor miracle) and his three-point accuracy is up to a very respective .352. Unless he goes on a Kobe-like run, he's not making end-of-the-year "WOW!" lists.
But he's still the Kings' best option at point guard.
I've poured through free agent lists and team rosters. And I can't find a single better option for 2007-08 Sacramento Kings starting point guard. Maurice Williams is going to be expensive. Andre Miller isn't going to be available for a fair price. Flip Murray, Tyronn Lue, Brevin Knight, Marcus Banks, Mike James, no no no no no.
Mike Bibby is the better option, and here's why:
- It's possible the awful, no-good, terrible start resulted from two serious factors: an injured wrist and the microfiber ball. In preseason, with the microfiber ball, Bibby shot lights out. But he was practicing his ass off with that ball, and had only had it for a month. Without doubt, he put in tons of time with the new ball. Then, the wrist injury with a week left in preseason. All of a sudden, he's not practicing with the new ball, or any ball. Even though he came back in time for opening day, I doubt he risked stressing that injury out by showing up at the gym at 2 in the morning to take some jumpers. It was all he could do to stay in the lineup, let alone spend a lot more quality time with the new ball. So yeah, he shot the hell out of the new ball for three weeks, then had to stop practicing with it. The injury chatter didn't go away until January, when the leather ball came back. In January, his penchant to actually hit shots returned (.417/.350/.771 that month).
- Eric Musselman's offense is dramatically different than the system Rick Adelman employed. Everyone knew it'd be different, but it was still a shock. Bibby relied for five years on high-post screens from a big who handles the ball. Musselman's offense shifts the entire post setup sideways, and uses Bibby more as a screener than decision-maker. Adelman's system led Bibby to his favorite spots on the floor - left elbow deep, left corner, two steps left of straight-away. Musselman's system results in Bibby on the right side of the floor a lot, and sometimes in the left midrange area. Obviously, that hasn't worked. Even Sunday you could see it - Mike clanked his midrange jumpers and nailed his threes from the left wing. Shooters have their sweet spots, and Bibby's could be the most pronounced of all. Adjusting to Musselman's (always-changing, hardly intuitive) offense has surely been a season-long battle from someone so entrenched in playing a certain way.
- Ron Artest is a weight. He completely shook up the locker room to the point where hearing about a shouting match after the game isn't a surprise. It worked last year, when the team needs a kick in the ass. But that type of abrasion can't last a whole season.
Unless there's a deal that knocks Geoff Petrie's socks off, I think the Kings should stick with Bibby. This was the bottom. It's only better from here.
(Also, I'm an idiot for writing off the Bibby Era so casually at the trade deadline. Also, this isn't a response to the Phoenix game - I was writing this last week.)