As the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors duke it out in the NBA Finals, it’s clear that the Kings are far from playing that level of basketball.
But there’s hope: With two top-10 picks and a deep draft pool, the Kings can accelerate their rebuilding process by selecting high-impact players with both picks.
Early mock drafts had Sacramento drafting Kentucky point guard De’Aaron Fox at No. 5. According to The Bee’s Jason Jones, the Kings hosted Fox for a pre-draft visit on Monday. Jones also reported that Harry Giles, the 6-foot-11 center from Duke, will work out for the Kings on Tuesday.
Giles tore his ACL, MCL and meniscus in his left knee in 2013 and tore the ACL in his right knee in 2015. He averaged 4 points and 4 rebounds in 11.5 minutes per game at Duke last season, according to ESPN. Giles did not appear in any of the mock drafts sampled.
Several mock drafts had the Kings selecting Justin Jackson, a small forward from the University of North Carolina, with the No. 10 pick. Jackson worked out for the Kings last Wednesday, according to Jones.
Updated mock drafts have the Kings some combination of a point guard and a wing player, but there isn’t a consensus as to which two players Sacramento will take.
Here’s a sample of updated mock drafts with analysis:
“The Kings are desperately in need of a young point guard with a high ceiling, and Fox is exactly that. At 6-4, he has nice size for the position and is super-fast with the ball. He was sensational in Kentucky’s 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. So Jackson makes sense. The 6-8 former North Carolina star shot a career-high 37.0 percent from 3-point range this season, which greatly enhanced his NBA stock.”
Forgrave believes that the Kings will trade both picks. In one swap, Sacramento would trade Ben McLemore and the fifth pick to the Philadelphia 76ers for the third overall pick and former Duke center Jahlil Okafor.
In the other swap, the Kings would trade the No. 10 pick for the Detroit Pistons’ No. 12 pick and shooting guard Michael Gbinje, the Pistons’ 2016 second round pick.
“The Kings get a player in Fox who is the best two-way point guard in this draft, the speediest player in this draft, and someone who is a consistent three-point shot away from being a star in the NBA. The first three picks of this stacked point guard draft are all point guards. Perhaps the Kings can also find a role for Okafor, who is still a uniquely talented low-post offensive player – I’m not nearly as ready to give up on him as some.”
“The idea of having Anunoby on the court at the same time as De’Aaron Fox means two possible lockdown NBA defenders who’ll give other teams fits. Anunoby’s in-between size used to be considered a negative but could now be considered a perfect fit for today’s NBA. Anunoby can guard multiple positions at a high level.”
“The Sacramento Kings won’t be happy to see the Phoenix Suns grab De’Aaron Fox. But Fox going top four means Jayson Tatum slips to No. 5, where he stands out as a strong candidate for best player available. Assuming Rudy Gay isn’t in the team’s long-term plans, Tatum gives the Kings a potential go-to scoring replacement.”
“If this is how the draft plays out, the Kings could head into next year starting Smith, Buddy Hield, Jayson Tatum, Skal Labissiere and Willie Cauley-Stein.”
“Sacramento has a hole at point guard, so Fox will be an irresistible choice for Vlade Divac and Co. However, his best-case scenario depends on his jump shot, which is still a work in progress.”
“Jackson will bring an exceptional basketball IQ and a much-improved jump shot to Sac-Town. He’ll provide supplementary scoring and pinpoint passing from the 3 spot.”
“The Kings were roundly panned for their return in the Boogie Cousins trade, but think of it this way: If Sacramento kept Cousins, it’s like they have lost their first-round pick to the Chicago Bulls by finishing outside of the bottom-10. Instead, the Kings have a shooting guard they love in Buddy Hield and two top-10 selections. I’m going to argue that, ultimately, it’s pretty decent haul.”
“If the Kings take Fox at No. 5, it’s going to be paramount to get shooters in the front court. There is none better than Markkanen, a Finnish 7-footer with an ultra-quick release and soft touch who hit 69 threes at a 43.2 percent clip. If Fox is indeed Sacramento’s first pick, the Kings should be praying for Markkanen to fall to No. 10.”
“The Kings need a point guard of the future, and Fox is the consensus best floor general available after (Markelle) Fultz and (Lonzo) Ball. I mean, what Sacramento really needs is the best player available, and Josh Jackson is the right man here for the Kings. But do you trust Vlade Divac and Vivek Ranadive to make the correct decision? I don’t.”
“This would be a huge reach, but remember – we’re throwing all typical basketball logic out the window with this team and its front office. With the Kings likely set to lose Rudy Gay in free agency this summer, Jackson could tempt Sacramento as an NBA-ready scorer.”
“Tatum would give the Kings a surefire high-level starter and a player with go-to scoring ability on the wing. While he may lack some of the upside of other prospects, like Jonathan Isaac, he’s one of the least risky prospects available.”
“The Kings would love to grab a point guard with one of their picks and if they determine that the Mavs are likely to take (Frank) Ntilikina at 9, they may be forced to grab Smith (or Frank himself) at 5. Markkanen may struggle defensively but would give them a spread the floor big to play alongside Willie Cauley-Stein.”