Hollinger's Team Forecast: Sacramento Kings

Originally Published: October 2, 2006
By John Hollinger | ESPN Insider
Go to: Offseason moves | Biggest strength | Biggest weakness | Outlook

The uniforms were the same, but by the end of 2005-06 you'd have hardly recognized these Sacramento Kings. In a 12-month span the club changed out three-quarters of its roster, with Brad Miller, Mike Bibby and Kevin Martin the only players who were with the team at midseason of 2005.

Ron Artest and Kobe Bryant
Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty ImagesArtest's defense had an immediate impact.

The housecleaning was necessary and probably overdue, and I doubt it's done yet. Even before the season, the Kings had the look of a team teetering on the brink of collapse, as the Chris Webber trade from a year before had signaled the beginning of the end of their early-century excellence. They brought in Bonzi Wells as a one-year stopgap at shooting guard to replace free-agent escapee Cuttino Mobley, added Shareef Abdur-Rahim with the midlevel exception, and gambled that their thin bench wouldn't be exposed.

Unfortunately, Abdur-Rahim was limited by a broken jaw, Peja Stojakovic and Miller started showing their age, and Wells missed 30 games. The only positive development to offset those disappointments was the emergence of a shooting guard, Martin, who had done nothing as a rookie but sported one of the league's top true shooting percentage marks in his sophomore campaign. As a result, the Kings seemed a tired, old team, with a glaring lack of athleticism and a profound inability to stop opponents. As the trade deadline neared they were mired at 19-27 and it seemed their string of playoff appearances was coming to an end.