Mike Bibby is hitting his prime. Or was last season his peak? He should be as fast as he's ever been in Sacramento, as he lost some weight this summer. But will that hurt his ability to finish in the lane? And will the fluctuation hurt his shot early on, like last season's weight gain did? How will a full season of Ron-Ron and a new offense affect his game? This team is full of shooters at every position - will that hurt Bibby's number of attempts?
There seems to be a lot of questions, but Mike Bibby has been really steady over the past three years. Sure, he has his early season struggles and midseason explosions, but at the end of the year, the statistics look pretty predictable.
Which, of course, means I'm going to severely botch this one.
Here are the last three seasons for the Bibbilicious Bibbinator:
MPG PTS REB AST FG/eFG/TS%
2004 36 18.4 3.4 5.4 .450/.514/.564
2005 39 19.6 4.2 6.8 .443/.495/.543
2006 39 21.1 2.9 5.4 .432/.501/.554
Like we said, it's pretty steady. 2005 is looking like a bit of an outlier - the three-point shooting wasn't as good as in 2004 or 2006, but the non-scoring numbers were better. (Much better, actually.) But most of 2005 can be explained away by essentially a half of a season with a) Brian Skinner and Kenny Thomas as your starting frontcourt, and b) Maurice Evans and Darius Songaila as your best bench players. How in the hell did that team make the playoffs and actually win a game in Seattle? Well, because Mike Bibby and Peja Stojakovic played out of their gourds in the second half. (Maybe that should have told us something about 2006 before that happened, that Peja + Bibby x out-of-their-gourds = .500 ball = not a particularly good core to build on? I don't know.)
How Bibby continues to build with Ron Artest - the alpha dog but no higher than the #2 offensive weapon under all circumstances - will dictate the Kings' success this season, and that will determine how Bibby's stats end up looking. If Artest allows Bibby to continue to flourish - not the case late in the season, though some of that can be attributed to Bonz-illa - then this is the base of a potent offense that Brad Miller, Kevin Martin, and Shareef Abdur-Rahim can enhance greatly with their efficient play.
I think that will likely be the case. Artest will take too many shots, but not enough to really hurt Bibby's game. I think Bibby can stay above 15 FGAs per game, even with the slightly lesser workload that will come from having real options at backup point guard (being John Salmons and a healthy Francisco Garcia). And hopefully his new-found quickness can help get two more FTAs per game, which turns into an almost sure 1.5 extra points.
Here's my prediction:
MPG PTS REB AST FG/eFG/TS%
2007 36 20.2 3.5 5.8 .440/.510/.570
Let's hear your guesses.