CHICAGO -- The Kings need to improve their outside shooting – badly.
Center DeMarcus Cousins will continue to be surrounded by a crowd in the paint unless Sacramento adds more shooters who will make defenses pay for leaving them open on the perimeter.
Without a consistent outside threat, it also will be tough for players to drive to the basket, where defenses will be camped and waiting.
That could lead the Kings to Creighton senior Doug McDermott.
McDermott believes he is the best shooter in the draft. And unless the Kings move up in next week’s lottery, they’ll pick seventh, where McDermott is expected to be available.
The Kings are taking the “best-player-available” approach, but a strong outside shooter will be tempting anywhere on the board.
“I think I can shoot from anywhere on the floor,” McDermott said of his strengths Thursday at the NBA draft combine. “And getting other guys involved as well. I think that’s an underrated part of my game.”
The Kings seek players who can improve an offense that often stagnated with too much dribbling and one-on-one play. Sacramento ranked last in assists this past season with 18.9 per game. And when the ball did move, it was hard to find good outside shooters to take advantage of the attention defenses paid to Cousins, Rudy Gay and Isaiah Thomas.
The Kings, who tied for 27th in three-point shooting at 33.3 percent, believe one way to add assists is to find better shooters.
McDermott (6-foot-8, 225 pounds) shot 52.6 percent last season, including 44.9 percent from three-point range, while averaging 26.7 points. He was named a consensus first-team All-American.
The last time the Kings tried adding shooting with a big-time college scorer, it was Jimmer Fredette in 2011. Much like Fredette (BYU), McDermott comes from a mid-major school.
McDermott admits he needs to work on his defense because he’ll have to defend athletic small forwards in the NBA rather than power forwards in college. Defense was always a concern with Fredette, who eventually was bought out and waived.
The biggest difference between the players is that McDermott will not be asked to run an NBA team as a point guard.
“I think I’ll figure it out,” McDermott said. “Once I get on the floor, I’m a basketball player and I’ll kind of figure it out from there.”
McDermott, who has met with the Kings at the combine, says he’s already familiar with players on the team, notably Cousins, from their Team USA experience.
McDermott said playing with Cousins “would be huge. He draws a lot of attention, too, and he can pass for a big guy. He was at the Team USA (minicamp) last summer with me, and (the Kings) have a really good point guard in Isaiah Thomas. Another good fit.”
The Kings also have interviewed Nik Stauskas, another top shooter who averaged 17.5 points (44.2 percent on three-point attempts) as a guard at Michigan.
“(The Kings’) interview was pretty basic,” Stauskas said. “They had (10 or 11) people from their team there.
“If a team needs a guy who can really space the floor and they have a couple of guys who are really good at getting to the basket, that’s going to open up a lot of things for me.
Stauskas said his defense has been questioned, but he believes he will surprise teams with his effort.