Every basketball fan remembers the classic early 2000s Sacramento Kings teams that were a force to be reckoned with in the Western Conference. Led by superstar Chris Webber, this fun group was one of the very few teams that seemed to play real team basketball. Flawless chemistry and passing between all of the players from top to bottom not only created a great winning culture early on, but they were also one of the most entertaining teams not only of their era, but in league history.
The closest thing we have today to this classic era in Kings basketball, has been the Denver Nuggets, led by MVP candidate Nikola Jokic. The success and style of play is similar to what the Rick Adelman coached team was. Let’s take a look at the starting lineups for a closer comparison.
- Mike Bibby vs. Jamal Murray
Both guards are leaders on the floor, can shoot the lights out, and have incredible chemistry with the star of the team (Webber and Jokic respectively). What’s also important to note, is that both players have sacrificed usage and high assist stats for the good of the team, as the offense runs better through the bigs. There’s also the fact that on any given night, Bibby or Murray can take over a game offensively.
- Doug Christie vs. Gary Harris
Though Harris isn’t as good of a defender as Christie was, Harris is a very good defender in his own right and tends to draw a lot of tougher matchups since the Nuggets and it has proven to work as Harris led the starters with a 105.3 defensive rating and basically shut down Damian Lillard in the playoffs. Regardless, both Christie and Harris were relied on to take big shots when needed and prove to be an excellent compliment to the rest of the core. It also helps that Harris can create his own shot which couldn’t be said for Doug.
- Peja Stojakovic vs. Will Barton
This might be the only match-up that isn’t a mirror image of each other as Peja was used as a shooter and all around presence on offense compared to Barton. Though Barton can score, he’s a below average shooter. His play-making, however, might be a little better than Peja’s. Be that as it may, both are important cogs to their respective lineups.
- Chris Webber vs. Paul Millsap
Both Webber and Millsap can do it all offensively. They can post up, handle the ball, and even shoot from the mid range. Make no mistake about it, if having a stretch 4 was as big then as it is now, Webber would be shooting just as many three’s as Millsap does. Another thing to note is the undeniable chemistry these two have with the rest of their teams. I would note that Millsap sometimes dribbles too much instead of taking it down low compared to Webber but still, these two are very similar in style.
- Vlade Divac vs. Nikola Jokic
These two Serbian stars, are mirrors of each other in every aspect of the game. The passing ability, leadership, ball handling, and everything in between, including pure basketball IQ are all extremely similar. The only difference here is that instead of the Power Forward of the team being the star like how Webber was, Jokic takes the reigns of star at the Center position, doing everything Vlade did, but more, including the ability to shoot the three. Though Webber is clearly a better player than Millsap, Nikola Jokic, and you can argue this all you want, is a better player than Divac. The Inside the NBA crew laughed off Reggie Miller’s comparison between the two Center-Power Forward combos, but honestly he’s right.
If Torey Craig is inserted into the starting lineup next year, you can also argue that the spark plug that Will Barton will be off the bench could be what Bobby Jackson was for the Kings.
The point is, the similarities are evident. The Nuggets can be called the “New age” Kings and for good reason. Now that Kings team was screwed out of a title, so let’s hope that the Nuggets will be able to break that mold in the next couple of years and win a championship not only for themselves but for all the small market teams that are fighting to survive. Just like how Chris Webber was able to turn Sacramento into a powerhouse, Nikola Jokic has done the same with these Nuggets. Hopefully, Denver is able to keep that momentum going into next season, proving that they aren’t just some flash in the pan, but rather they are here to stay at the top of the Western Conference.
Featured Photo Credit: telegraf.rs
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