Times are changing for the Kings, but one thing remains the same: The NBA draft is both a source of hope and anxiety for fans in Sacramento who crave improvement but are all too familiar with disappointing decisions in the recent past.
This year, it’s double the lottery picks, double the fun and double the chance to screw it up. And double the predictions!
A sample of 12 mock drafts from analysts across national sports media reveal little consensus as to whom the Kings will land with the Nos. 5 and 10 picks on June 22. A majority agree with The Sacramento Bee’s Jason Jones that they’ll draft Kentucky point guard De’Aaron Fox with the fifth pick, but with the tenth? It’s anyone’s guess. Jones thinks it’ll be sharp-shooting power forward Lauri Markannen of Arizona.
As for everyone else, here are their best guesses so far, with samples of their analysis:
“Monk is the most polished perimeter scorer in this class, and his ability to get hot, stay hot and alter a game from three is as rare as it comes.”
“His fluidity, touch, shooting potential, passing and shot-blocking are all off the charts for a guy his size.”
“If Jackson can become a small-ball power forward in the NBA – and that’s by no means a guarantee – this could be a perfect fit for Sacramento’s young and talented roster.”
“You can make an argument (as one NBA scout did to me) that Isaac has the highest upside in this entire draft. The scout said Isaac, if he adds muscle, could someday be spoken of in the same “physically off the chart” tier as LeBron or Paul George.”
“He was sensational in a Sweet 16 win over UCLA while finishing with 39 points.”
“If Sacramento is going to take a point guard who can’t shoot with the fifth pick, it makes sense to take a wing who can with the 10th.”
“Fox had moments in the NCAA Tournament when he should have been in the conversation for No. 1. Front offices love the speed and nonstop energy that comes across on defense as well as when he pushes the ball in transition, and that he’s not out of control in the process – his assist-to-turnover ratio in the first week of February was 3-1 before finishing at 1.90-1.”
“The agile, fluid 7-footer is the latest European stretch four bound for the lottery, following Kristaps Porzingis and Dragan Bender.”
“Fox is the quickest and most explosive guard in the top group of prospects. He also might be the toughest, which should be a godsend for coach Dave Joerger.”
“Collins is the real sleeper in the draft and is getting looks from teams as high as the Magic at No. 6.”
“His jump shot is the major question mark.”
“Diallo follows in the footsteps of Thon Maker last season as a fifth-year high school player jumping straight to the NBA. With Diallo, there’s a twist: He committed to Kentucky for the second semester and spent a couple of months practicing .”
“Lightning-quick point guard.”
“One of the most moldable prospects in the draft.”
“Sacramento has some athletic young big men and Buddy Hield, who could potentially team up with Fox in an exciting young backcourt.”
“Assuming there are no bizarre trades in the works, the Kings could be in position to follow up their point guard pick by addressing another weak spot, small forward.”
“Tatum has the upside to go as high as No. 2, as he’s the most polished scorer in this class.”
“Ntilikina’s 6-5 frame gives him defensive versatility.”