CHICAGO The Kings have questions for players. And guess what?
Players have questions for the Kings.
At least one, Marquette's Darius Johnson-Odom, had already broken down the Kings' roster when he met with team officials Wednesday evening at the NBA draft combine.
"I have a breakdown book (of NBA teams)," Johnson-Odom said. "I look at their roster. I figure out teams, like Sacramento. The one question I had (for the Kings) was what made Isaiah Thomas so much better than Jimmer Fredette? They gave me feedback."
A player that is intuitive and detailed? That's what the Kings need and are looking for during the draft process. The team began the interview process, meeting with three perimeter players and one power forward that also could play small forward in certain situations.
One theme was consistent in their line of questioning: the Kings want to know how these players think on the court.
With a promising star in center DeMarcus Cousins, the Kings need players who can play in concert with him and not make some of common-sense basketball mistakes that plagued the team in recent seasons.
The Kings met with North Carolina small forward Harrison Barnes, Florida shooting guard Bradley Beal, Kentucky forward Terrence Jones and Johnson-Odom on Wednesday.
Besides the basic background information, what did the Kings want to know?
"My IQ of the game," Beal said. "What I would do in certain situations, my favorite plays, things like that."
Barnes and Beal are considered the top prospects at their positions, and either of them could slip to No. 5 in the first round.
In Sacramento, they'd join a crowded group on the wing.
The team's leading scorer is guard Marcus Thornton, who has three years left on his contract and is due approximately $24 million.
Tyreke Evans was the Rookie of the Year in the 2009-10 season. But heading into his fourth season, the Kings are not expected to offer him a contract extension, though he will be eligible for one this offseason.
John Salmons had one of the worst seasons of his career in 2011-12 before being benched. After that, he started showing flashes of the player the Kings traded for last June.
The Kings also have Francisco Garcia and Travis Outlaw under contract and still could re-sign Terrence Williams.
Even with all the players on the wing, none in the group is an established star and all could be challenged for his spot.
Versatility and smarts are musts for coach Keith Smart. So a young player could earn time by showing those qualities and knowing how to feed the post and space the floor.
Beal would add size in the backcourt and shooting. Barnes is known for his basketball acumen but admits he needs to improve his ballhandling and ability to set up others.
Barnes is willing to learn.
"Personally, I'm a sponge," Barnes said. "I try to take a little bit from everybody."
In answering media questions, Barnes seemed to have a good understanding of the pro game.
"In the NBA, it's different," Barnes said. "It's more isolation basketball. So you have to kind of change your style a little bit."
Johnson-Odom might be a consideration with the Kings' second-round pick. He said he could play both guard spots and wants to defend.
But he might bring more than that with his mindset and his breakdown book.
"I had a lot of questions to ask," he said. "Just being professional is what it's about, and I just made sure I am doing everything as a professional."