Being named Rookie of the Year is a big deal. Who are we kidding? It's a very big deal. And while the Kings may not be a big deal at the moment, that doesn't mean they've haven't been graced with a few ROYs in the past.
Back in 1978 when the Kings were the Kansas City Kings, Phil Ford was named ROY. Ford was the 2nd pick in the 1978 NBA draft and as ROY led the Kings with an average of 15.9 PPG, 8.6 assists, 2.3 rebounds and 2.2 steals. Ford played nine seasons in the NBA and had his best years with the Kings before retiring in 1985.
Even though Geoff Petrie never played for the Kings, he is currently their President of Operations and in 1970 he was named ROY with the Portland Trailblazers. I credit Petrie for much of the Kings success although I can’t say the same about the more recent seasons.
One of my favorite all-time players (behind Tyus Edney) is Mitch Richmond who was ROY in 1988 when playing for the Golden State Warriors. Richmond played seven seasons in Sacramento where he was a beast from beyond the arc. Still a Sacramento fan favorite, Richmond helped shape the Kings organization and put Sacramento on the map.
Chris Webber was always a controversial player. Before coming to Sacramento, he was best known for his game-losing play at Michigan along with his conflict with former Warriors coach, Don Nelson. Webber became a King in 1998 and although he was hesitant (and vocal) about his move to Sacramento, it is easily one of the best decisions both the Kings and Webber have ever made. With the help of Peja Stojakovic, Vlade Divac and Jason Williams, Webber led the Kings to the Western Conference Finals which to this day is the closest the Kings have ever been to a championship title. Webber retired in 1998, but still goes down in history as a member of the Kings dream team.
Fast forward to the 2009 NBA season where the Kings had the # 4 draft pick. While it seemed like we had once again been screwed in the draft, the #4 pick was actually a blessing in disguise as the Kings drafted Tyreke Evans who opted to forgo his three seasons at the University of Memphis to enter the draft. While we knew Evans was a remarkable player with a tremendous amount of talent, he was young and still considered inexperienced. The Kings took a risk and even though they still had a losing season, Evans was able to put up points, bring excitement to the game and earn the Kings first official title of ROY. The good news is he’s still young. The bad news is he had a pretty bad second season with the Kings. The truth is he needs help and more support from his team. Just like I believe in the Kings, I believe in Tyreke and his ability to hopefully one day lead the Kings to the championship (or at least the playoffs).
In this years draft the Kings picked up one of my personal favorites, Jimmer Fredette out of BYU. Even though he may have been the 10th pick in the draft, Jimmer has ROY potential written all over him. In his senior year at BYU he was the top ranked PG in the country according to rivals.com and he led D1 NCAA basketball in scoring, averaging 28.9 points per game. If that doesn’t scream ROY, I don’t know what does.
Since Santa delivered my Christams gift (a season) early this year, is it too soon to ask for my half birthday present aka Jimmer for Rookie of the Year? Mark my words that this year Rookie of the Year will be spelled J-I-M-M-E-R.