The Kings have long been maligned for miscues in the NBA draft.
From Quincy Douby to Jimmer Fredette to Thomas Robinson, they have had their share of misses in recent drafts and have been at the butt of many jokes.
But the Kings’ draft haul on Thursday night could represent a turning point.
The Kings selected Kentucky point guard De’Aaron Fox at No. 5, North Carolina forward Justin Jackson at No. 15, Duke forward Harry Giles at No. 20 and Kansas point guard Frank Mason III with their second-round pick.
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The Bee’s Ailene Voisin said Fox is the prize of the group.
“In a point guard centric era, he is the critical piece of the massive rebuild, both because of his enormous talents and because he wanted the job,” Voisin wrote. “During his visit. At the draft combine. On social media. In interview after interview. His message was consistent; he wanted the responsibility and was willing to withstand the heat.”
And after years of criticizing the Kings’ draft selections, national analysts were pleasantly surprised with the Kings’ selections on Thursday. Many of them declared the Kings “winners” of the 2017 NBA draft.
Here is a sampling of what national media members had to say.
“Risk is attached to every draft pick, and none of these players are perfect. But if we had a laugh at the Kings’ expense over the past few years, it’s only right to give them credit where it’s due.”
“They took Kentucky point guard De’Aaron Fox, a great athlete who fits a serious need. They traded Zach Collins to Portland for two picks, which became Justin Jackson and Harry Giles -- a safe forward pick and an injury-concern gamble with potential. Then they added Frank Mason in the second round. They hit every value slot.”
“Yes, the Kings! Winners! They were roundly lampooned for their drafting foibles last season, and widely mocked again in February for the package they got in return for All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins. But they emerged from draft night with a nice first-round haul: Superquick point guard De’Aaron Fox, rehabbing forward Harry Giles and solid small forward Justin Jackson, taking the last two from Portland in exchange for the 10th pick.”
“The Kings, by their very low standards, had a not totally awful evening! Actually, they had a very good evening! They got the player they had reportedly targeted all along, De’Aaron Fox, at No. 5. ... They got No. 15 and No. 20 from Portland in return, and used them to take Justin Jackson and Harry Giles. While Jackson is a relatively uninspiring selection, Giles, the top recruit in the country a year ago, has all kinds of upside if he can re-find access to his pre-knee injury talent. At 20, the minimal risk is well worth the potentially massive reward.”
“Sacramento is years away but this roster got way more intriguing, way more fun and way more talented on Thursday night. This is, without a doubt, a team to circle on the Las Vegas Summer League schedule.”
“Not only did the Kings get the man they targeted the whole time — Kentucky point guard De’Aaron Fox — with the fifth pick, but they turned around and slid a few spots back from the 10th pick to get North Carolina forward Justin Jackson, a good shooter, at 15 and Harry Giles, a former top prospect who has been slow to recover from knee injuries, with the 20th selection. It was the kind of smart, solid drafting the Kings haven’t done enough of in recent seasons.”
“It has been a long time since I’ve loved anything the Kings have done. But I loved this draft for them.”
“The Kings have been one of the worst-run franchises in sports over the last five or so years, but they now have a good collection of talented young players to build around moving forward. Fox and 2016 No. 6 pick Buddy Hield could form one of the most exciting young backcourts in the league.”
“The Kings rebounded from a draft in which they gave up their top pick to the 76ers by taking their point guard of the future, Fox, and trading down to add a couple more potential pieces in Jackson and Giles. Giles in particular is an intriguing prospect if he’s healthy after three major surgeries.
“We’ve mocked Vlade Divac and Sacramento’s front office quite a bit in the build to this draft. Consider this grade our official apology.”
“The Kings kept the fifth pick with the hope of getting De’Aaron Fox, whom they fell in love with for a multitude of reasons. An elite perimeter defender, Fox is a relentless attacker who excels in transition with a full head of steam. Seven-footers Willie Cauley-Stein and Skal Labissiere – also Kentucky products – will love playing with him because both can run the floor.”
“Fox is great, and instead of trading up to get him, the Kings waited for him to fall at five. Then they turned the No. 10 pick into 15 and 20. Justin Jackson should be an excellent role player for them, and Giles is smart gamble at 20. I don’t want to get too excited, and I’m worried about jinxing this, I don’t know what to trust here, but... The Kings had a great draft?
“It really was a crazy week in the NBA.”