When Chris Webber busted his knee during last season’s Western Conference semi-finals, the heart of every King’s fan sunk as hard as one of Stojakovic’s 3-point shots. The loss of the 02-03 season’s leading scorer, averaging 23 points per game, was a leading factor in the Kings letting a championship slip through their fingers.
However, now that we are well into the 03-04 season how much has Webber really been missed? The Kings are leading the division in scoring and have a sensational starting line up. Now that the legendary C-Webb is ready to return, the question is, “Do we really want him back?”
His return brings about a variety of dilemmas, the first one being “who goes on the bench?” Brad Miller, who took Webber’s position on the starting line-up, is having an outstanding season and has become a key asset by way of rebounds. Besides, who can resist screaming, “It’s Miller time,” at least once during a game?
In fact, the entire King’s starting line-up is currently on fire. Each player interacts with one another in absolute accord and unity in a way that has not been readily seen in previous seasons. They are currently benefiting from a delicate balanced starting line-up that has gotten the Kings to their position as number one in the Western Conference. Adding Webber to the line-up may easily tip that balance and send the Kings spiraling downwards.
Another dilemma occurs when considering the physical condition and ability of Webber. He has had little to no off-season training, team practicing and game-time experience for almost a year. So not only will he be rusty and out of shape, but he will also be playing at the pace that most players are at the beginning of the season.
He will need to decipher the actions and trends of the players from the other teams, which cannot be done from the bench. All of the other players, who have met each team at least once already this season, will have already done this and be at their peak performance. Compared to them, Webber will be like a shaky freshman walking into a pep rally full of hyped-up seniors.
Should Webber waltz right in and expect to have the same position and prominence that he had when he left? The feelings of this reporter and die-hard Kings Fan are no, no, no and no again. Webber should do something that he has had a lot of practice doing for the past year– sit on the bench. Not indefinitely, but for the time being. Let him come in when we are ahead, to get him some game time experience.
Then we can slowly re-introduce him back into the starting line-up. For the time being, C-Webb can sit tight while the Kings add a jewel, or perhaps a ring, to their Sacramento crown.