has gone from a complementary performer to a needed scorer for the Sacramento Kings.
Salmons never averaged more than 8.5 points per game in his first five NBA seasons. He is now averaging 15.4 points after scoring 19 last night in a 109-99 win over the Sixers at the Wachovia Center.
The Kings have played all season without
, who is recovering from a torn ligament in his left thumb. Last night was the fifth straight game that Sacramento was without leading scorer
, who is sidelined with a groin injury.
"John, in different capacities, has stepped up and played well for us," Kings coach
said. "He has gone from a secondary role to a starting role."
The 28-year-old Salmons, who starred at Plymouth Whitemarsh High and makes his off-season home in Bryn Mawr, said the increased minutes (more than 33 per game) and his experience have contributed to his strong start.
"I'm a little more mature and understanding how to play in the league," Salmons said.
said he is not surprised at Salmons' production.
"He has a nice floor game, can play some [shooting guard and small forward], and can put the ball on the floor," Cheeks said. "He can post up and step outside and shoot, and I always knew he had those abilities."
Another trait he has shown is the ability to adjust. Since entering the league in 2002-03, Salmons has played for seven coaches:
Larry Brown, Randy Ayers, Chris Ford, Jim O'Brien,
"It's tough, because when I got drafted and when I went to Sacramento [as a free agent], there was a coach [Musselman] who knew who I was and wanted me," Salmons said. "Every year, you don't know what the new coaches are thinking. But once you get over that, it's fine."
has been working out, and Cheeks said he might be able to go through full-court scrimmages next week. Hill has been out since late in the preseason after surgery to repair torn cartilage in his left knee. . . . The Sixers were outrebounded by 39-31 and are now 2-8 when opponents win the battle of the boards. . . .
is eighth among Eastern Conference guards in the most recent all-star balloting with 70,476 votes.
- Marc Narducci