The fourth segment of our five-part, summer-milking series looks at shooting guards. For those questioning his impending absence from this list, I have placed Reggie Theus at point guard.
A quick reminder about the criteria used here:
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. Though that wasn't enough to vault Jon Barry into the top 10.
4. Subjectivity rules. And as it is my list, it is my subjectivity that reigns supreme. Save your subjectivity for the thread, especially when it comes to Tyreke Evans and Jim Jackson.
5. The selection of Joe Kleine cannot be argued...ever.
6. Just because a guy may have played before you were born does not mean that he was not good (Mike Woodson, hello!).
Some of the better players that fall outside the top 10 - Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, Tariq Abdul-Wahad, Barry, Ricky Berry and Jackson.
10 - Sarunas Marciulionis
Logging fewer games than anyone else on any of the top 10 lists, Marciulionis played only 53 games as a King during the 1995-96 season, after coming to the Kings along with Byron Houston from Seattle for Frank Brickowski. Sarunas became a bruising piece of an already tough squad that included Mitch Richmond, Olden Polynice, Brian Grant, Michael Smith and Corliss Williamson. Marciulionis was a key cog in the Kings' first trip to the playoffs in ten years, averaging 11 points per game and nearly 20 per 36 minutes. But it was his hard-nosed, baseline to baseline play that got Sarunas the 10 spot on this list.
Yeah, Jim Jackson was good in his 63 games here, and on Barry brought a lot to the table. But Sarunas was more important to that team, and that team was very important to Kings fans of the day.
9 - Francisco Garcia Again, there will be some that feel that Jackson and/or Barry are more deserving. But I'm giving Garcia the 9th spot on the list for time served, 5th all-time in games played by a Sacramento King, 2nd for a shooting guard. Garcia also ranks 4th in 3-point field goals, behind only Peja Stojakovic, Mitch Richmond and Mike Bibby.
Drafted out of Louisville with the 23rd pick of the 2005 draft, Garcia averaged 8 ppg during his eight seasons in Sacramento. He also averaged an impressive (for a wing man) .7 blocks per game. Garcia's best years came in 2007-08 and 2008-09, when he averaged 12 and 3, with a couple of assists, and roughly a steal and block per game. More importantly, Garcia was always an engaged teammate and a competitor through and through. Injuries impacted Garcia during the latter portion of his stay with the Kings, but he still managed a per 36 of 14, 4, 2, 1, and 1.
8 - Marcus Thornton Much like John Salmons, there seemed to be two Marcus Thorntons. The first was the sharp-shooter that came to the Kings from New Orleans for Carl Landry in 2010-11. That Marcus Thornton averaged over 21 and 5 (rebounds) down the stretch that season, and followed it up the next season with a 19 and 4 performance. His scoring dipped to 13 ppg the following season, but that was mostly due to when/how he was used, as he posted Kings career high in 3-point field goal percentage (37%).
The second Marcus Thornton was the guy that could never find himself in Michael Malone's system. That guy was pretty bad.
Overall, Thornton was a guy that wasn't afraid to take the big shot, and he could make ‘em. He was not much of an assist guy, but he was an adequate 3-point shooter and a pretty good offensive rebounder for an undersized shooting guard. He averaged 14, 3, 2 and 1 during his time as a King, with per 36 of 18, 4, 2 and 1. Even if I mark him down for being a pouty puss, Marcus Thornton is #8 on my list.
7 - Mike Woodson To the way-back machine!
Mike Woodson only played one season for Sacramento, arriving here from Kansas City in 1985. As a member of a core rotation of three guards along with Reggie Theus and Larry Drew, Woodson averaged 16 (on 48% shooting) and 3, adding a couple of assists and a steal. His was the best defender of the group, often drawing the opposing team's best offensive guard as his defensive assignment. Woodson was a pretty good player for a playoff squad.
Woodson was traded after one season in Sacramento, with Larry Drew and a 1st round pick that would become Hersey Hawkins, to the L.A. Clippers for Derek Smith, Junior Bridgeman and Franklin Edwards. It stands today as the worst trade in Sacramento Kings history, one that set the franchise back for years.
Woodson wasn't here long, but his contribution exceeds those that precede him on this list.
6 - Bonzi Wells If Ron Artest was lightning in 1995-96, Bonzi Wells was the thunder.
Bonzi Wells came to the Kings prior to the beginning of the 2005-06 season courtesy of Memphis in exchange for Bobby Jackson and Greg Ostertag. Wells was in the last year of a 4 year, $29m contract, so the deal held limited risk for the Kings.
Wells was hurt in mid-December of that year, and returned shortly before the Artest - Stojakovic trade. Artest and Wells rallied the moribund club to the playoffs, with Wells averaging almost 14 and 8 (rebounds) plus nearly 2 steals. But it was in the playoff series vs. San Antonio where Wells really went off, averaging 23 and 12(!!!). The Spurs had no answer for him and Wells made what he thought was a massive statement for a new contract.
Wells reportedly turned down a 5/$35m offer from the Kings, and the Kings ultimately pulled all offers off the table and signed John Salmons instead. Wells would wind up signing a one year deal for $2m with Houston, and would be out of the NBA two years after leaving the Kings. But for playing his best ball at the most important time, and doing it for the last Kings playoff team (jeebus!), Wells lands here on the list.
5 - Danny Ainge This was the toughest placement for me so far. I could really have placed Ainge as high as #3 on this list, but I'm going to put him here.
Simply, when Danny Ainge arrived here at the trade deadline in 1989 with Brad Lohaus, with Joe Kleine and Ed Pinckney being pardoned to Boston, he was probably the 2nd best basketball player to wear a Sacramento uniform since the Kings' arrival four and a half years earlier (only Reggie Theus could really be argued to have been better, and even that would have been a helluvan argument). Ainge was a two-time world champion, known for his all-out play and fierce competitive spirit. This did not matter much to me at the time of the trade. I despised Ainge as a player, and I loved me some Joe Kleine. By the time Ainge left, he had become my favorite Sacramento King of all time (up to that point).
In his season and a half in Sacramento, Ainge averaged career highs of almost 19 and 6 assists, adding one and a half steals. Ainge shared the back court with Vinnie Del Negro and Kenny Smith, so one could argue that he was a point guard, but I saw him as more of a 2, especially defensively.
Ainge was dealt as a professional courtesy by the Kings, who were going nowhere at the time. He fled to Portland for Byron Irvin and a draft pick that would become Pete Chilcutt.
4 - Tyreke Evans The poster child for what happens when a rudderless franchise drafts a project of a player that possesses plus talent.
This was another tough placement. First of all, should Evans be placed with point guards or shooting guards (or even small forwards)? I'm going with the call that he played slightly more from the wing than the point as a King, and from that he played more at shooting guard.
Next, how do you sum up Evans as a King? He was a rookie of the year, a 20-5-5 guy, and the face of a franchise until (at least until Keith Smart replaced Paul Westphal). Aside from our eventual #1 and #2, he is the only other guy on this list that opposing teams prepared for, the team's numero uno.
On the other hand, his teams were terrible, albeit that was a pure byproduct of lack of investing in talent by ownership and a revolving coaching staff. Regardless, what Evans accomplished here was accomplished when the team was horrifically bad.
Overall, Evans was an 18, 5 and 5 guy while he was here, which is outstanding. There was always a lot of focus on his sketchy perimeter shot, but Evans posted a 52% true shooting percentage during his tenure here. For perspective, wing prospects Gordon Hayward and Giannis Antetokounmpo both shot in the 52% TS range last season. In other words, not great, but not bad for a young player surrounded by inferior talent.
Evans would sign a 4 year, $44m deal with the New Orleans Pelicans as a restricted free agent. The Kings engineered a sign and trade for Greivis Vasquez and a couple of 2nd round draft picks.
Evans may be the most polarizing player on this list. And perhaps Evans and Cousins would never have worked as a duo. But given what Chandler Parsons and Hayward just signed for, the Evans contract is looking less and less like an overpay. It will be interesting to see what kind of player Evans is by the time his next contract opportunity rolls around. All of that aside, for everything that Evans brought to the party, he is the 4th best Sacramento Kings shooting guard of all time.
3 - Doug Christie Sure, he benefitted from being surrounded by superior talent. But he took full advantage of that opportunity, and brought a lot to the party himself.
On talent alone, Christie would fall below Ainge and Evans on this list. But Christie was the right guy in the right place in the right time, and he gets the nod for being a huge return on investment and the perfect complementary piece for the greatest Sacramento Kings team to date.
When Christie arrived here from Toronto in 2000 for Corliss Williamson, it marked the fourth time that he had been traded in his eight year career. The Kings had determined that Williamson had become expendable, with Chris Webber and Stojakovic manning the 4 and 3, respectively. But from 20,000 feet it appeared that the Kings had sold Williamson a little low, as Christie did not appear to be even a top half shooting guard in the league.
But Christie fit the roster and Adelman's game plan like a glove. The best defender on the team, but also a capable passer and a terrific 5th (and maybe 6th, depending on how you view Bobby Jackson) option on offense - one that could convert efficiently but did not need a lot of shots. Christie averaged 11, 5 and 4, with an outstanding 2 steals per game. His assists always seemed to come to a back-cutting Peja. He made big defensive play after big defensive play. He earned all-defensive team honors four straight seasons. All-time steals leader, Doug Christie.
Christie was dealt to Orlando before the 2005 trade deadline for Cuttino Mobley and Michael Bradley. He would be out of the league a couple of years later, and he was another player that played his absolute best ball for Adelman's Kings. On numbers alone, Christie might slip down the list a little. But when you factor in end results, he is deserving of the #3 position.
2 - Kevin Martin How? Because I'm soft! Why? Because it will piss off Grant Napear!
Here's a list of Sacramento Kings that have averaged at least 20 points per game in four seasons: Mitch Richmond, Chris Webber, Peja Stojakovic, Kevin Martin.
Martin was drafted in 2004 with the 26th pick of the draft, perhaps Petrie's best 1st round draft pick when you consider the draft slot. I remember liking 2nd round pick Ricky Menard better than Martin - Martin was skinny and his shot was just too funky. Yeah, I'm a genius.
Martin saw limited playing time his rookie season, but he became a rotation player the following season, earning starter's minutes when Bonzi Wells was hurt. Martin hit a buzzer-beating layup against the Spurs in the 2006 playoffs.
The following season and for the following three-plus seasons, Martin became the best (if not always primary) scoring threat for the Kings. Martin had to meander his way through the egos of Ron Artest and Mike Bibby, and he finished his time in Sacramento watching Tyreke Evans come into vogue as he sat injured. Martin was dealt in a cash dump to Houston for what essentially amounted to Carl Landry.
Martin's "That's crazy talk!" number is his 60%(!) true shooting number that he put up during his time in Sacramento. His 17 ppg translates to over 20 per 36.
1 - Mitch Richmond Um, yeah. The rest of this list was a challenge to arrange, but there is a mile or more between Mitch Richmond and whoever you like at #2.
Hall of famer Mitch Richmond. Dream Team gold medal winner Mitch Richmond. All-star MVP Mitch Richmond.
2nd all-time in games played as a Sacramento King (one game behind Stojakovic), 1st in points, 2nd in steals (behind Christie), 3rd in assists behind Bibby and Theus. A 23, 4, and 4 man with better than a steal per game.
Acquired in 1991 from Golden State along with Les Jepsen and the draft pick that would become Tyus Edney for the draft rights to Billy Owens, and dealt along with Otis Thorpe to Washington for Chris Webber in 1998, Richmond aided the franchise both coming and going. He is either the greatest or 2nd greatest Sacramento King of all-time, depending on your opinion of Chris Webber.
Point guards tomorrow. I saved the toughest for last (toughest for me, anyway).