Five takeaways from Kings' completed pre-draft workout schedule

Five takeaways from Kings' completed pre-draft workout schedule

SACRAMENTO -- With the 2017 NBA Draft just days away, the Sacramento Kings wrapped up their pre-draft workout schedule Monday with another six NBA hopefuls rolling through the practice facility. Over the last few weeks, nearly 70 prospects have made the trip to the Capital City, including eight players expected to go in the top 20 in Thursday night’s draft.

“We were impressed with a lot of the guys, not only how they worked in the process of the workouts, but how they represented themselves as young men,” Kings executive vice president of basketball operations Scott Perry said following Monday’s workout. “We learned a lot about them, they learned a lot about us and what we’re trying to get accomplished here in Sacramento. We really felt that this process went very, very well.”

Wake Forest's John Collins highlighted the final workout. It was the second stop in Sacramento for the 6-foot-10 power forward who is expected to be selected in the top 15 picks of the upcoming draft.

Collins joins De’Aaron Fox, Josh Jackson, Zach Collins, Donovan Mitchell, Harry Giles, Justin Jackson and Jarrett Allen as potential top 20 selections to make their way to Sacramento. In addition, another dozen or so players expected to go between the late first round and mid second round worked out for the Kings during predraft workouts.

Here are so quick takeaways from the draft process:

--- John Collins wasn’t the only player to make multiple trips to Sacramento. Kansas point guard Frank Mason III dazzled the media with his post workout dunk exhibitions twice. He is expected to draw plenty of interest in the late first/early second round on Thursday night and all indications are that the Kings were impressed.

--- Caleb Swanigan also made an impression, not only on his fellow workout attendee Donovan Mitchell, but the Kings brass in attendance. The sophomore big out of Purdue can score around the basket with either hand and has plenty of range.

--- Zach Collins has more to his game than what people saw in his lone season at Gonzaga. According to folks in attendance at his workout in Sac, the 7-foot power forward went hard at the Kings’ coaching staff in one-on-one drills and followed that up with a stellar 3-point performance. He is slotted to go anywhere from 10 to 15 in the upcoming draft.

--- The Kings were able to lure both projected top 5 selections Josh Jackson and De’Aaron Fox in for visits. Jackson met with the Kings front office and coaching staff, but did not workout. Fox on the other hand posted parts of his visit on social media, stayed the night in Sacramento and worked out for the team in a one-on-none setting. Both players fit a position of need and neither one is expected to make it past number 5, where the Kings select.

--- The theme coming from the players over the last few weeks was the competitive nature of the Kings workouts. Most of theses players have spent the better part of a month on the road working out for one team after another. Mason III had already taken part in 10 workouts in his second visit to Sacramento and had another four scheduled before draft night. It’s a grind, but the consensus was that players were impressed with the Kings’ building and the vibe of the coaching staff.

Kansas Jayhawk stars stop by Sacramento before NBA Draft

Kansas Jayhawk stars stop by Sacramento before NBA Draft

SACRAMENTO -- The Kansas Jayhawks showed up in force Wednesday in Sacramento. Point guard Frank Mason III dropped in for his second workout with the Kings. Later in the afternoon, NBC Sports California confirmed that forward Josh Jackson made an appearance at Golden 1 Center for a meeting with the team, but did not workout.
Jackson, 19, is considered a top five pick in the upcoming NBA Draft. The 6-foot-8, 203-pound wing posted 16.3 points, 7.4 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game last season while helping Kansas reach the Elite 8. 
He and Mason made a devastating tandem, leading the Jayhawks to a 31-5 record and a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. 
Mason is listed as a second-round pick in most mock drafts, but he’s turned heads with his leadership and athleticism. The 5-foot-11 point guard put on a dunking display following the workout, showing that his max vertical of 41 inches from the NBA’s combine last month was no fluke. 
The senior guard averaged 20.9 points, 5.2 assists and 4.2 rebounds in 36.1 minutes a night for coach Bill Self. He is the first player to come through Sacramento for a second workout this draft season. According to Mason, he has already worked out for 10 teams, including two separate stops in Orlando. He has four more workouts scheduled between now and next Thursday’s Draft. 
“I think it’s a good sign,” Mason said of his second visit with the Kings. “Maybe they’re really interested in me.”
Mason is getting comfortable in Sacramento, even taking time to reach out to Kansas fans living in the Capital City via social media. The 23-year-old even invited a young Jayhawks fan and his father down to his hotel in downtown Sacramento where he took pictures and hung out in the lobby.
“It’s really cool to know that I’m a role model for kids,” Mason said. “Just for him to meet me and where I’m heading in my career, it’s a pretty big deal for him.”
The Kings are looking to add at least one point guard in the upcoming draft, most likely with one of their two top 10 selections. But if Mason makes it to the early second round where the Kings hold the 34th overall selection, he might be an option as a spark plug off the bench. 
Jackson is the second potential top five player to visit the Kings during pre-draft build up. Kentucky point guard De’Aaron Fox made an appearance two weeks ago, spending the night in Sacramento and working out for the team.

The Sacramento Bee was first with the news of Jackson’s visit. 

With MVP hardware in hand, Durant silences critics

With MVP hardware in hand, Durant silences critics

OAKLAND -- You won’t find a “Win 1 for KD” t-shirt for sale on the internet. The 10-year-NBA vet did everything in his power to deliver the Oklahoma City Thunder to the promise land and when he couldn’t get over the hump, he took his talents to the Bay Area.

It’s not a fairy tale outcome for the good people of OKC and the Cleveland is probably feeling the burn right about now as well. Durant had to do what he had to do to win a ring. But how often does a player join the best team in the world and become the best player on that team?

“I hear all the narratives throughout the season,” Durant said following the Warriors 129-120 win over the Cavs Monday night. “That I hopping on bandwagons, that I was letting everybody else do the work. But that was far from the truth. I came in, I tried to help my team, I tried to be myself, be aggressive.”

Durant hoisted his first career Larry O’Brien Monday night in front of a packed house of adoring Warriors fans decked out in yellow. He was also handed the Bill Russell Trophy as the Finals MVP.

He finished the clinching Game 5 with a team-high 39-points, giving him 30 or more in all five Finals games. Durant added seven rebounds and five assists in 40 minutes of action and shot an impressive 14-of-20 from the field.

No coattail riding for Durant. He hit the big shots. He carried his team through the downtimes and all while guarding LeBron James for much of his time on the floor. In a sea of superstar players, he quietly dominated throughout the playoffs and all the way to his first championship.

“Kevin is always an afterthought for everybody,” assistant coach Mike Brown said. “Which is too bad, because Kevin, if he’s not the best player in the world, obviously he’s one of the top three. To see him perform at the level that he did on this stage during this series was fantastic. That’s who he is and be careful, because he’s going to be around for a long time.”

With Durant in tow, plenty of other players took a backseat for Golden State. But it’s a family behind the scenes. Everyone has a role and after losing the championship to the Cavs last season, the Warriors understood they needed another piece to their puzzle.

“We knew, bringing KD here, filling the gap that needed to be filled,” Draymond Green said from the Warriors champagne soaked locker room. “You feel like there’s a chink in the armor, you try to fill that. We did that. We’re Champs.”

Best player. Best team. Finals MVP. Kevin Durant.

Durant took a gamble. He took plenty of grief for doing so, but he’s no different than so many other. Karl Malone didn’t finish his career with the Utah Jazz, he joined Gary Payton in LA trying to get a ring with Shaq and Kobe. Charles Barkley tried to sneak in a ring with the Clyde Drexler and Hakeem Olajuwon in Houston. Even LeBron James had to join forces with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh to get his first trophy.

This isn’t a new concept. Durant isn’t a sellout. He was a free agent and he took the best opportunity to win. To judge him for that decision is naive.

“It’s a team sport,” Durant said. “You’ve got to want to sacrifice, you’ve got to want to put your teammates in front of yourself sometimes and I just tried to do that.”

The 28-year-old forward has plenty of time to cement his legacy in the league. For now, he’s found a home with a talented group of unselfish players. If he sticks around long term, this likely won’t be the last time he’s standing on a stage at season’s end being pelted with confetti.

“It feels amazing to win a championship with these guys, I can’t wait to celebrate with these guys for the rest of the night...well, maybe the rest of the summer,” Durant said.

Durant has a $27 million player option for next season with the Warriors. They’ll have a tough time piecing together a dynasty with four All-Star level players in their prime, but they’ll give it a shot. If they can keep this group together, this might go down as one of the league’s great teams.