This much is clear. As long as Ron Artest plays for Sacramento, nobody can refer to them as the Queens. When Shaq played for the Lakers, he used to call Sacramento the Queens because they were so soft defensively. Now, with the acquisition of Ron Artest last season, the whole complexion of the Sacramento Kings
has changed. The Kings are now a tough, defensive-minded team with an attitude that they can compete with anybody. You may not like Artest, but you can’t argue with his talent and competitive spirit. There are few players in the NBA
that can change the whole complexion of a team by themselves, and Artest is one of them. Because of that, the Kings have a legitimate shot at the NBA Playoffs this season.
In addition to Artest, Sacramento Kings’ fans can also look forward to good things from Mike Bibby. Bibby has always been a great floor leader and a clutch shooter, but this summer he worked out extra hard. Thanks to diet and exercise, Mike Bibby lost 18 pounds in the off-season and is quicker than ever. Bibby and center Brad Miller are about the only two players left over from the team that faced the Lakers in the 2002 Western Conference Finals. The Sacramento Kings also have a new head coach this year, with Eric Musselman replacing Rick Adelman.
To give you an idea how much better the Kings are with Artest on the court, simply look at last season’s regular season record. Before Sacramento traded for Artest, the Kings had a record of 18 wins and 24 losses. After acquiring Ron Artest, the Kings won 26 games and only lost 14 times. They turned a losing season into a winning one, and made it to the NBA Playoffs. They even tested Tim Duncan and the Spurs in the playoffs, winning two games before losing the series in six. The Sacramento Kings should build on that success and return to the playoffs this season.
The Sacramento Kings are full of talent at the forward position. In addition to Artest, they also have veteran forwards Shareef Abdur-Rahim and Kenny Thomas. However, Bonzi Wells is a free agent, and it appears he will be leaving the Kings to sign elsewhere. Ron Artest can either play forward or guard for Sacramento, depending on their need. The Sacramento Kings also have two young guards, Kevin Martin and Francisco Garcia, who continue to improve. They also acquired guard John Salmons in the off-season. So, new coach Eric Musselman has a good mix of young talent and veterans to work with.
The Sacramento Kings will be stronger defensively than they have been in the past. This will be a big asset for them in a Western Conference that is not known for their defense. The Kings always have a loyal and vocal fan base, so they will have a big advantage when they play at home in Arco Arena. The talent is in place and the team ended last season with positive momentum. As long as Eric Musselman can hit the ground running, the Sacramento Kings should have a good year and make it back to the NBA Playoffs. One thing is certain though: you can no longer call them the Queens.