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Sacramento Kings All-Time Top 10: The Point Guards

Point guards. Pass-first, shoot-first, turnover-first point guards.

Mike Ehrmann

The fifth and final segment of our five-part, coma-inducing series looks at point guards. From 5-6 to 6-7, we've got ‘em all

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. And subjectivity is the rule for the day as I go through this list.

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

6.     No one forgets the Yeti!

Some good ones that just missed the cut: Randy Brown (great defensive guard!), Bobby Hurley (what might have been), Jim Les (our first 3-point specialist!), Ronnie Price (take that, Carlos Boozer!), and Rory Sparrow (who was once a Sports Illustrated Sportsmen of the Year).

10 - (Tie) Jason Terry & Sam Cassell

I keed, I keed. I just wanted to make sure that you were still paying attention.

10 - Tyus Edney

Tyus Edney was one of those magical things that came out of nowhere to help the Kings to their first playoff series in ten years. He was the 47th pick of the 1995 draft (a pick that came to the Kings along with Mitch Richmond back in 1991). Edney could not have been drafted into a better situation. The team had only one point guard on the roster, and that was post-accident Hurley (Spud Webb had been traded in the off season, and Randy Brown left for Chicago and three straight NBA championships).

Edney would wind up starting 60 of 80 games in his rookie season, trailing only Mitch Richmond in minutes. Edney led the team in assists (his 491 almost doubled silver medalist Richmond's 255). His 6 assists per game also came with a 2.5/1 assist/turnover ratio, and he added almost 11 points and 1 steal per game.

The following season, the Kings obtained Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, and he and Richmond became the primary starting back court, with Richmond running the offense. Edney's numbers dropped, the Kings missed the playoffs, and he signed with Boston as a free agent in the off season. Edney would be out of the league a year later, a victim of consistent injuries.

Edney compiled numbers of 9 and 5 (assists) plus a steal during his time as a Sacramento King, with a per 36 of 13 and 7.

9 - Larry Drew To the way-back machine, again!

Like Mike Woodson (see yesterday's shooting guard list), Drew 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 Woodson, Drew averaged 12 (on 49% shooting) and 5 assists, adding a steal per game. He was a point guard that deferred largely to Theus - he had once averaged over 20 ppg while in KC.

Drew was traded after one season in Sacramento, with Woodson and a 1st round pick that would become Hersey Hawkins, to the L.A. Clippers for  Derek Smith, Junior Bridgeman and Franklin Edwards. As mentioned yesterday, it stands today as the worst trade in Sacramento Kings history, one that set the franchise back for years.

8 - Beno Udrih One man's trash is another man's treasure.

After three years (two championship seasons) in San Antonio, Beno Udrih was traded along with cash to Minnesota for a 2nd round pick that never materialized. The Wolves waived Udrih, who then signed with the Kings for a little under $800k, leaving the Wolves to cover a little under $2m in salary with the cash that they had received from the Spurs. Yep, the 2007-08 Kings were so bad at guard behind Mike Bibby and Kevin Martin that they had to reach into the dumpster to sign a guy that neither the Spurs of Wolves wanted.

Udrih wound up being a nice find that season, as he started 51 games for an injured (and ultimately traded) Bibby, averaging 13 points on only 11 shots a game. This was the beginning of a consistent run for Beno, who averaged between 11 and 14 ppg (never taking more than 10.6 shots per game) and 4-5 assists over his four year run with the Kings. He was basically a 13 (on 10 shots) and 5 guy overall. He was also the last King to possess anything resembling a consistent mid-range game.

Udrih was dealt to Milwaukee along with the #7 pick in the 2011 draft for John Salmons and the #10 pick, which would become Jimmer Fredette, the 2nd worst trade in Sacramento Kings history (see #7 for details).

Fun fact: Udrih is the 2nd greatest NBA player of all-time with a last name starting with the letter "U," trailing only Wes Unseld. Apologies to Ime Udoka.

7 - Spud Webb Before 5-9, there was 5-7. And before C-Webb wore #4, S-Webb wore #4.

Rumor has it that when Webb was traded in 1991 along with the draft pick that would eventually become Lawrence Funderburke to Sacramento from Atlanta for Travis Mays, Mitch Richmond welcomed him with a hearty "Welcome to hell!"

Webb would prove to be pretty durable during his four years in Sacramento, playing in 92% of possible games and averaging almost 34 minutes a night. His numbers of 14 and 7 (assists) were highly respectable, and his assist/turnover ratio of 2.6/1 was solid. He also added better than a steal per game. Webb led the NBA in free throw shooting in 1994-95 with a percentage of 93.4%.

The Kings traded Webb back to Atlanta in 1996 for Ty Corbin, a curious move considering that the Kings really only had Hurley and rookie Edney at point guard at the time. He would really only play one more NBA season.

6 - Kenny Smith Kenny Smith was drafted with the 6th pick of the 1987 draft. Kevin Johnson went with next pick. Mark Jackson (my personal favorite at the time), went 18th. The selection of Smith over Johnson hurt the Kings in the long run, but Smith himself was a solid pick - he was probably a top 6-7 player from that draft.

Smith would play about two and a half seasons in a Kings uniform, averaging 16 and 7 assists and better than a steal. His best season was 1988-89, his second with the Kings, as he averaged 17 and almost 8 assists.

Smith wasn't the problem for the Kings that went 24-58 and 27-55 in his two full seasons in Sacramento, but he wasn't the cure, either. The Kings shipped Smith to Atlanta (the early day Houston, apparently) along with Mike Williams for Antoine Carr and Sedric Toney.

5 - Isaiah Thomas (You are allowed to substitute Alex Oriakhi and a player trade exception in this spot if you so desire...but I'm not bitter, and that's the important thing.)

Thomas was selected with the 60th and final pick of the 2011 draft, obtained a year earlier along with Darnell Jackson when Jon Brockman was dealt to Milwaukee (the Bucks would get even with us later...see #8).

Thomas was drafted into a situation where Tyreke Evans appeared to be the incumbent point guard under head coach Paul Westphal, and Jimmer Fredette, drafted 10th, had the inside track on being the backup point guard. Thomas was fighting for one of the last chairs on the bench, or so it seemed at the time.

Westphal was fired seven games into Thomas' rookie season, and new coach Keith Smart began giving Thomas legitimate burn almost immediately. Thomas took over as the starting point guard 29 games into the season, and wound up winning Rookie of the Month honors twice and securing a spot on the NBA all-rookie 2nd team.

Thomas would show improvement over his following two seasons, with his 2013-14 season being his high water mark, posting 21 ppg and adding almost 7 assists, though his 2.1/1 assist/turnover ratio was sub-standard. Thomas proved himself to be a big shot taker and maker, and a very efficient offensive player. He was traded to Phoenix after signing a 4 year, $27m offer sheet. The Kings received a $7m player trade exception and Alex Oriakhi in return.

4 - Bobby Jackson Isaiah Thomas, v1.0, but bigger and playing for a much, much, much better team.

For the money (5 years, $13.5m), this may have been Geoff Petrie's greatest free agent signing. Jackson had just wrapped up his 3rd NBA season. After a promising rookie campaign in Denver, B-Jax backslid a bit in his two seasons in Minnesota. Petrie brought him to Sacramento in the hopes of fortifying the bench. Jackson responded by becoming one of the best 6th men in the game, winning the award in 2002-03. He was also a very capable spot starter when Mike Bibby was injured.

Jackson's numbers - 11, 3, 2, 1 (per 36 of 17, 5, 4, 2) - don't begin to tell the whole story. He was fearless. He would drive up Shaq's chest without hesitation. This was not always to Jackson's benefit, who missed several games due to various injuries. But he was the fiercest competitor on the Kings best teams.

Jackson was traded to Memphis along with Greg Ostertag for Bonzi Wells in 2005. He would return to the Kings in 2008 as part of a trade with Houston that would also net the Kings Donté Greene and Omri Casspi in return for Ron Artest, Sean Singletary and Patrick Ewing, Jr.

3 - Jason Williams Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em!

Three seasons. An 11 and 6 man with a tepid 2.2/1 assist/turnover ratio. He would get you better than a steal per game. But he helped to usher in the Kings golden era, and his value netted the Kings Mike Bibby.

Williams was drafted with the 7th pick of the 1998 draft. Would the Kings have been better off with Dirk Nowitzki (drafted 9th) or Paul Pierce (drafted 10th)? Hard to say, as that would have changed everything, impacting the Bibby trade, Peja Stojakovic and perhaps even Doug Christie. Williams was named to the NBA all-rookie 1st team.

Williams was the just what the franchise needed. He woke up the fan base, energized Chris Webber, and made Kings basketball something other than a punchline.

Williams was traded to Vancouver along with Nick Anderson for Mike Bibby and Brent Price in 2001.

Statistically, Williams could be placed on the lower half of this list. But for who he was and what he did and when he did it, I'm giving him the #3 spot.

2 - Reggie Theus

Reggie Theus came to Sacramento when the team moved from Kansas City. In his three seasons in Sacramento, Theus played in 95% of possible games. This includes when he face planted the hardwood floor and broke his jaw. If memory serves, Theus was back the next night.

20 ppg (before the 3-point shot was in vogue). 8 assists per game (before assists were a bit easier to attain via the 3-point shot and relaxed statistical standards).

Theus was traded to Atlanta in 1988 for Randy Wittman and the draft pick that would become Ricky Berry.

1 - Mike Bibby And Team Dime rejoices.

His shot in game 5 of the 2002 Western Conference Championship may be the biggest shot in Sacramento history (it's my favorite). And his numbers are excellent: an 18 and 5 man as a King, adding a steal and 3 boards. 3rd all-time in 3-pointers made by a King, 3rd in games, 1st in assists.

And he adjusted his game when he came to Sacramento, as he had been a more traditional facilitator while in Vancouver. Petrie did a masterful job of recognizing Bibby's potential, as well as understanding that a point guard that was a bit less ball-dominant would benefit the movement-oriented offense and players. Bibby probably could have been an all-star for a lot of other teams that would have been more dependent on him to handle and dish. But he adjusted to his role here, and both he and his team flourished.


There you have it. A week of the off-season is burned beyond recognition, and my work here is done.