An unproven NBA talent came to Sacramento, his career statistics nothing too impressive and no indication that significant success was on the horizon.
No, we’re not talking about the Kings’ latest addition, utilityman John Salmons. We’re talking about Bobby Jackson, the former Kings’ super reserve who was used today as a comparison by Kings president of basketball operations Geoff Petrie.
The lesson, Petrie was intimating, is that opportunity and fit are vital parts of a player’s success, and that the stat line, certainly, doesn’t always tell the whole story. Before the Kings signed Jackson in 2000, he had averaged 5.1 points and 2.4 assists in 73 games with Minnesota in what was his third season. Then after averaging 7.2 points in his first season with the Kings, Jackson averaged 13 points per game in the next four seasons as the fan-favorite sparkplug.
Salmons - the four-year player who played in 82 games and averaged 7.5 points, 2.7 rebounds, 2.7 assists, and 25.1 minutes for Philadelphia last season - may very well experience similar success. If nothing else, he’ll be around teammates who know what it’s like to play with 76ers’ superstar Allen Iverson.
Salmons’ stance towards Iverson was the same as Kings forward and former 76er Kenny Thomas before him: for all of A.I.’s talents, it’s tough to get a piece of the pie on his team. That factor was enough for the Kings to investigate Salmons’ production when Iverson was not on the floor, leading to their eventual conclusion that he can do much better in a different system.
Kings coach Eric Musselman is already a huge fan of Salmons’ versatility.
“We envision when he’s at the point that he will have the ability to post up other point guards who, sometimes, are four or five inches smaller,” Musselman said. “And we envision that if we move him over to the (small forward spot), that he can be isolated and beat people off the dribble. …It’s very unique to find a player who can play (point guard, shooting guard and small forward) not only offensively, but he can do it defensively too.”
The next Bobby Jackson of sorts? Stay tuned.
- Sam Amick