The Sacramento Kings have needs coming into the 2017 NBA Draft, like every other team. With two picks in the Top 10 and an early second round selection, they have an opportunity to add talent at multiple positions of need, but they are at the mercy of the teams surrounding them.
An infusion of talent is the highest priority, but here is a look at the most glaring holes the Kings have as they move towards Thursday’s draft.
Darren Collison and Ty Lawson manned the point last season and both of them enter the summer as unrestricted free agents. Both made it abundantly clear that they wouldn’t mind returning to Sacramento, but will either jump at the opportunity if it is in a slightly diminished role as a mentor to an up and coming guard.
There are plenty of options for the Kings in the draft. Neither Markelle Fultz or Lonzo Ball are expected to make it to Sacramento, but there is a legitimate possibility that Kentucky’s De’Aaron Fox will make it to the fifth overall selection where the Kings currently sit. He’s the fastest player in the draft and at just 19-years-old, he has plenty of room to grow.
If Fox is gone at five, the Kings will likely shift gears and look to fill other needs at 5 while hoping to re-address the position at 10. N.C. State’s Dennis Smith might still be on the board at 10, although he has a couple of red flags. Smith tore an ACL in high school and there are some concerns regarding his willingness to work with others.
Frank Ntilikina out of France might garner consideration at 10 as well. The 6-foot-5 point with a 7-foot wingspan projects as a plus defender early in his career, but he will need time to develop offensively. Louisville’s Donovan Mitchell has worked hard to convince teams that he can play either guard position. He’s a plus defender with an aggressive offensive game, but he averaged just 2.7 assists per game last season with the Cardinals.
Sacramento brought in Frank Mason III for two separate workouts and if he makes it to the second round, he is likely in play at 34. Oklahoma State’s Jawun Evans is another intriguing prospect that might make it down to the Kings in the early second round. Regardless of who the Kings draft at 5 and 10, they may add depth at the position with the 34th selection as well.
Rudy Gay has already informed the team that he is opting out of his final year with the team and both Omri Casspi and Matt Barnes were sent packing at the trade deadline. Garrett Temple can steal some minutes at the position, but the Kings lack size and a frontline starter at the small forward position.
The top end of the draft has plenty of potential fits. Josh Jackson out of Kansas is a ferocious two-way player that projects as a potential All-Star at the position. Duke’s Jayson Tatum will step in and be a scorer on day one and Jonathan Isaac from Florida State has one of the higher ceilings in the draft. At least one, and likely two of these players will be on the board when the Kings select at No. 5.
If Jackson somehow makes it to the Kings at 5, they would have to jump all over him. He’s a high energy player that stuffs the stat sheet on the offensive end and projects as a plus defender.
Tatum plays a similar style to Gay. He doesn’t have the raw athleticism of Jackson or Isaac, but he’s a more refined player at this point in his career. He likes isolation plays and mid-range jumpers, which may not fit the modern NBA for much longer, but he is an elite scoring talent.
Isaac may not be able to stay at the wing position long term. At 6-foot-11 with a 7-foot-1 wingspan, he has the tools to succeed on both sides of the court. But he is raw, making him one of the bigger boon or bust prospects in the top 10.
If the Kings land a point guard at No. 5, the position becomes more difficult to fill at 10. North Carolina’s Justin Jackson visited Sacramento during the workout process, but he is slated to go in the 15-20 range. Indiana’s OG Anunoby would be in play at 10 if he wasn’t still recovering from an ACL tear. He is a defensive juggernaut, but needs time to develop on the offensive side of the ball.
The Kings are well stocked at the shooting guard and center positions, with three or more players at each spot. They will address either the point guard or small forward position with the fifth overall selection, but the chance of filling both major positions of need through the draft becomes more difficult to project.
Following the release of Anthony Tolliver, second year big Skal Labissiere is currently the only power forward on the roster. While the talent pool for points guards and small forwards gets thin at the 10-pick, there is plenty of potential to add talent at the four.
Arizona’s Lauri Markkanen is one of the best shooters in the draft and at 7-foot tall, he presents an interesting skill set for the power forward position. The Finnish-born big might not make it to 10, but if he does, the Kings have to an open mind about adding the unique talent.
Zach Collins made a tremendous run with Gonzaga before falling in the NCAA Finals to North Carolina. He played well in his solo workout in Sacramento, showing an array of post moves and knocking down a load of 3-balls to conclude his session. The 7-foot freshman can play either the four or the five and his physical style should translate well to the NBA game.
John Collins out of Wake Forest dropped by Sacramento twice for workouts and is projected to go anywhere from 12-20. He is a plus athlete with an advanced offensive game in the post. He didn’t have to opportunity to show his long range shooting or ball handling at the NCAA level, but he should be able to score at the pro level.
If the Kings pass on this group with No. 10, there are a stack of players that might make it to them at 34. Caleb Swanigan posted 18.5 points and 12.5 rebounds as a sophomore at Purdue. He is a banger that can score with either hand and knocked down 44.7 percent of his 3-point attempts.
Local product Cameron Oliver has an NBA body and NBA athleticism. He produced at University of Nevada Reno and he should be available in the second round. Oregon’s Jordan Bell is another option is the team is looking for a defensive presence at 34.