June 22, 2011
KINGS PAGE KINGS VIDEO
It's been too many years in a row for the Kings with these high draft picks. At some point, you'd think one of these top selections would help propel the Kings into the NBA playoffs -- and out of the lottery -- right?Well, come Thursday, it will be another June draft for the Kings and another selection near the top. But the plain truth is that nobody expects this year's pick -- the No. 7 overall -- to have the kind of impact of their past two selections.And that's the cold, hard reality facing Kings general manager Geoff Petrie and the rest of the franchise. In the past two drafts, the Kings have hit home runs -- with Tyreke Evans in 2009 and DeMarcus Cousins in 2010 -- and yet as good as both have been, they weren't good enough to get Sacramento out of the doldrums.Neither was Spencer Hawes nor Jason Thompson, a pair of lottery picks selected in 2007 and 2008, respectively.
Now put two and two together. This year's draft is considered one of the weakest in memory and the Kings are drafting in a worse spot than they have each of the past two years.RELATED: NBA Draft central
The bottom line is it's difficult to envision the Kings coming out of Thursday's draft in a significantly better spot than before it started.If the Kings have one thing going for them it's that they have a building block in place in the frontcourt (Cousins) and in the backcourt (Evans). Logic would suggest the next step for the Kings would be to find a small forward -- or more broadly a perimeter-type player.No wonder San Diego state small forward Kawhi Leonard is someone the Kings are looking at. From a practical standpoint, Leonard would seem to make the most sense. He's a long 6-foot-7, plays extremely hard and is an above-average athlete.Leonard also may be the best rebounding small forward in the draft, and his work ethic is unquestioned. At the same time, Leonard is limited offensively, and his shot has a long way to go. He's not someone who is going to come in and have a big offensive -- or defensive -- impact immediately.RELATED: Steinmetz's small forward positional previewThen again, not many draftees will.Also in the mix in Sacramento is BYU guard Jimmer Fredette, a consensus college player of the year and a member of virtually ever All-America team out there. Fredette doesn't fit exactly what the Kings need, and yet he's just intriguing enough and fits just enough that you've got to consider him.Fredette is a two guard who will likely have to play point guard in the NBA to reach his full potential as a player. The Kings already have Beno Udrih, who is under contract for two more seasons, and, of course, Evans. Could a three-guard rotation of Udrih-Evans-Fredette work?Well, it might not be perfect, but if Fredette turns out to be the real deal, then Sacramento could have a little something there.NEWS: Kings reportedly talking trade for Spurs' Parker
The Kings also might have an opportunity to draft Jonas Valanciunas, an intriguing Latvian center who some consider the best big man in the draft. Valanciunas is not likely to make it to the NBA until 2012-13 because of some buyout issues in his contract.Still, waiting one year -- and a possible lockout year, no less -- doesn't seem like that big of a deal to a Kings team that likely won't be competing for a playoff spot in 2011-12 anyway. Center Samuel Dalembert is a free agent and isn't likely to return to Sacramento. That alone could get you to make a case for Valanciunas.But no matter whom the Kings draft, there's pretty much no way he'll pitch in early as much as either Evans or Cousins. That's why you get the feeling the Kings will be in the same position come next June's draft.