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Sacramento Kings All-Time Top 10: The Centers

Ah, the dog day of NBA off season. How to fill the hours? “All time” lists are popular. Yeah, that’s the ticket!

Scott Halleran

Let's see... how about an all-time list of Kings by height? Been done. All-time roster? Donedonedonedonedonedonedone, and done...though that was one wife ago. By jersey number? Twice! All-time by position? Hmmm...I don't see anything...score!

Yeah, all-time by position will work. It's just regimented enough to cause angst (DeMarcus Cousins and Jason Thompson: centers or power forwards?), and I can institute capricious standards to suit my own personal agenda (50 game minimum = sayonara Drew Gooden!). And I can break it into five parts, thus meeting the "milk it until it's dry" standard that I helped pioneer at Sactown Royalty years ago. And who knows? Maybe Greg and I will parlay this into five podcasts. One can only dream...

Here is my basic criteria:

1.     50 game minimum. I was going to go with 75, but that's really just over a season when you consider the average number of games missed to injury. 50 is enough to make your mark (as the lists will prove).

2.     Overall contribution. A look at the numbers.

3.     Contribution beyond the box score. See Pollard, Scot for one example.

4.     Subjectivity rules. And as it is my list, it is my subjectivity that reigns supreme. Save your subjectivity for the thread.

5.     The selection of Joe Kleine cannot be argued...ever.

None of these points are ironclad. It is a moveable feast, designed specifically to avoid accountability for my choices. This approach has paid big dividends throughout my life, so why change now?

So without further ado, let's kick off this cutting edge series with the men in the middle. For the purpose of this exercise, I have determined that Cousins is a center (based on the fact that he has played most of his minutes next to power forwards), and Thompson is a power forward (based on the fact that he has played most of his minutes next to a center - science!). Now, one could easily argue that Cousins is the PF and Thompson is the C, but that argument will have to wait for your Fanpost (or at the very least, your thread comments). For what it's worth, Cousins and Thompson would fare roughly the same on both lists. I also coin-flipped Yogi Stewart and Keon Clark into the power forward pile.

OK, now without further ado, starting at #10...

10 - Joe Kleine One might be tempted to call this a "Captain's pick," but the guys left on the cutting room floor (Greg Kite, Mikki Moore, Jim Petersen, Brian Skinner and Bill Wennington) are not exactly the five horsemen of the apocalypse, their respective jump shots notwithstanding. Kleine was the first ever draft pick of the Sacramento era. He'll always be remembered for not being Karl Malone (conveniently forgotten is that more than half of the NBA teams at that time passed on the Mailman). Kleine was immediately followed in the draft by Chris Mullin, Detlef Schrempf and Charles Oakley. If you want to look for support of the theory that you don't draft for need, this draft is all you need.

Kleine had three things working against him in Sacramento: his status as the first round pick and his two hands. While I don't think that Kleine's hands were as bad as Duane Causwell's or Moore's (or 2013-14 Ben McLemore), he was not a man that you would have been comfortable handing your infant son or daughter to. Kleine was an 8 point, 6 rebound man in his three and a half seasons here (his per 36 would have been in the 14 and 11 range). Let's just say that blocks were not what he was into. Kleine would be dealt to Boston in 1989 along with Ed Pinckney for Danny Ainge and Brad Lohaus. Kleine would go on to play 15 seasons in the NBA and 965 games. He never met the expectations of a #7 pick (at least not in Sacramento), but he captured my heart (and accidentally dropped it). JOOOOOOOOOOOE!!!!!

9 - Duane Causwell Guess who is the all-time leading shot blocker in Sacramento Kings history. Evers Burns? Nope. Jim Les? Uh-uh. I'll give you one more guess, and a hint: his initials are "DC." No, not Doug Christie! Duane Causwell. Old Duane the bathtub I'm dwowning. The Causwell Classic. The Temple of Doom.

Causwell came to the Kings in the great draft of 1990. Lionel Simmons was the 7th pick in that draft, Travis Mays was 14th, Causwell was 18th and Anthony Bonner was 23rd. Fun fact: Bimbo Coles was selected 40th in that draft and was traded to Miami for Rory Sparrow.

Causwell was a 6 and 5 man in his seven seasons as a King, but he blocked 1.4 shots per game (he blocked shots at a clip of 3 per 36 minutes, but the other aspects of his game conspired to keep him off the floor). Causwell was eventually traded for Gary Grant and Matt Fish...woe is me that we didn't have a trade thread on that day.

8 - Spencer Hawes Hear me out (BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!). Please, just allow me to state my case (BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!). I beseech you (BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!).

7 - Scot Pollard There is nothing particularly mind-bending about Scot Pollard's numbers during his five seasons (though only three healthy ones) as a King. A 6 and 6 man that could block a shot now and then. His per 36 equated to 11 and 11 and almost 2 blocks, though there was no way that Pollard was going to give you 36 minutes on a consistent basis (during his three full seasons he logged 36 or more minutes a total of 13 times).

What Pollard brought to the table was supreme bench energy, toughness, and character (while also being a character). He could play alongside Webber or Divac, and though he usually lost the battle, he could withstand large doses of Shaq. He also seemed to get under Karl Malone's skin on a non-stop basis. Pollard was the key bench big for the greatest Sacramento Kings teams ever. He was dealt to Indiana along with Hedo Turkoglu as part of the sign and trade that brought Brad Miller to Sacramento. He was never the player that he was in Sacramento before he got here or after he left. Pollard was perfect for Sacramento at the time, and vice versa.

6 - Samuel Dalembert Dalembert played only one year in Sacramento, but during that season he averaged 8 and 8 and added 2 blocks per game. His per 36 was 12 and 12. That season also happened to be the rookie campaign of DeMarcus Cousins, and there was a bit of musical chairs between Cuz, Dalembert, Jason Thompson and Carl Landry (and Darnell Jackson, for that matter) under Paul Westphal.

And of course, Dalembert came to the Kings in the trade that sent Andres Nocioni and Spencer Hawes (BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!) - wait a minute, I'm just noting the details of the trade, and I can't do that without mentioning Hawes' name (BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!).

5 - Olden Polynice "He's the hero Sacramento deserves, but not the one it needs right now. So we'll hunt him. Because he can take it. Because he's not our hero. He's a silent guardian, a watchful protector. A dark knight (racist!)."

Olden Polynice was the quintessential anti-hero. You'd cheer him when he would turn Gheorghe Muresan completely around with a fake pass, and you'd face palm when he would chastise his own crowd. But you simply can't ignore five seasons of 11 and 9 production. And he saved his best for the 1995-96 tough as nails team that broke through to the playoffs for the first time in ten years.

Olden Polynice was a bit of a knucklehead. But he was our knucklehead.

4 - LaSalle Thompson Had I made this list any time over the past ten years, Thompson would have been 3rd on my centers list. Tank played six and a half years for the Kings, though only three and a half in Sacramento. During his stay in the River City, Thompson averaged 11 and 8, adding over a block per game. Listed at 6-10 (but looking about 3 inches shorter in person), Thompson was a hard-nosed defender that gave ground grudgingly. He possessed enough offensive skill to be relied upon more heavily, but he understood his role on teams that had guys like Eddie Johnson, Reggie Theus, Otis Thorpe and Derek Smith. Thompson was dealt to Indiana along with Randy Wittman for Wayman Tisdale (and the pick that became Bimbo Coles, who became Rory Sparrow).

3 - DeMarcus Cousins Yeah, this seems about right. Cousins could still climb this list, but for the time being this is where he belongs (he would be battling for the 2nd-3rd slot on the power forward list). His career numbers of 18 and 10 are eye opening, and on the surface more superior than the guys ahead of him on the list. But the centers currently sitting in the one and two slots were far more efficient, and played far more important games night in and night out for far better teams. That said, Cousins has ascended further up his position list than any other active King.

2 - Brad Miller I know, I know. And if you gave me a choice of Cousins and in-his-prime Brad Miller right now, I'd take Cousins. But the fact remains that Miller has, to this point, logged the better career in Sacramento. His numbers are actually superior to the eventual #1 player on the centers list. Six seasons in Sacramento, with an average of 13 and 9. He'd get you a block and a steal per game, and an amazing (for a center) 4 assists with a 2/1 assist/turnover ratio. Good free throw shooter (81%), decent from beyond the arc for a big (33%). When the Kings traded Scot Pollard and Hedo Turkoglu for him, the thought was that he would be Vlade Divac's replacement next to Chris Webber. Miller really held up his part of the deal. Webber's knee did not. Miller punked it a little when the team went into rebuild mode, and the Kings had to include a fair value John Salmons in a trade that saw them take back Drew Gooden, Andres Nocioni, Michael Ruffin and Cedric Simmons in return. But Miller logged some important games for the Kings and was named an all-star in 2003 and 2004. Cousins may surpass Miller someday, but not today.

1 - Brad Lohaus

I keed. I keed.

1 - Vlade Divac The only Sacramento Kings center with a jersey in the rafters. During his six seasons in Sacramento, Divac averaged 12 and 8 with a little under 4 assists per game and a 1.7/1 assist/turnover ratio. He was also worth a block and a steal per game. As noted above, statistically he is actually slightly behind Brad Miller. But Divac was the glue for the Kings' golden age team. Divac remains Sacramento's biggest pure free agent signing (Webber's re-signing is a little bit different), and if he is not the most beloved Sacramento King in the eyes of Kings fans, he is on a very short list.

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And there you have it. Your top ten Sacramento Kings centers of all time. Power forwards will be up next (still working feverishly on a criteria #6 that will enable me to omit Kenny Thomas from the top 10).