Sacramento Kings

Mock draft roundup: Willie Cauley-Stein emerges as favorite for Kings

Kentucky forward Willie Cauley-Stein (15) drives on Florida center Alex Murphy in the quarterfinal round of the Southeastern Conference tournament in March.
Kentucky forward Willie Cauley-Stein (15) drives on Florida center Alex Murphy in the quarterfinal round of the Southeastern Conference tournament in March. The Associated Press

With the NBA draft order set and the Kings locked into the No. 6 overall pick, barring any trades, pundits are churning out mock drafts.

Whether they’re to be mocked or praised for their insight remains to be seen, but there are some trends emerging with Kings projections: They need to find someone to complement All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins, and right now the favorite appears to be fellow Kentucky Wildcat Willie Cauley-Stein.

The Bee’s Jason Jones projected the Kings to take Latvian 7-footer Kristaps Porzingis at No. 6.

Here’s how 10 other sportswriters from around the nation projected the Kings to use their sixth pick in the June 25 draft.

CBSSports.com’s Sam Vecenie, Gary Parrish, Zach Harper

Consensus: Willie Cauley-Stein, Kentucky, 7-foot, forward

Vecenie: “In George Karl’s offense, the Kings will want to get out and run, and there are few big men who do that better than Cauley-Stein. On defense, he may be the best perimeter-defending big man that has entered the NBA draft, as he’s probably going to be athletic enough to guard anyone 3-5 on the next level. That makes him incredibly valuable next to Cousins.”

Parrish: “The Kings are terrible at a lot of things but especially terrible defensively. So they’d be wise to select the best defender in this draft.”

Harper: “It saves Cousins from anchoring a defense and it allows him to be even more destructive on offense.”

DraftExpress

Cauley-Stein

“Willie Cauley-Stein is the most versatile defender in this draft class, and should have no problem playing alongside the likes of DeMarcus Cousins and Rudy Gay, giving their head coach George Karl plenty of lineup flexibility.”

HoopsHype

Justise Winslow, Duke, 6-foot-6, forward

“He’s incredibly fast off the dribble and has really impressed with his ability to finish plays while operating at a high rate of speed in the open floor. Where the question marks still arise are his consistency and assertiveness. While he’s probably a risky pick, due to having an unrefined skill set, he has upside that few can match.”

NBA.com’s Scott Howard-Cooper

Cauley-Stein

“He is an ideal fit next to DeMarcus Cousins as a big who will win games without needing shots. Questions about his passion for the game will not go away, to the point that WCS himself is mentioning the criticism without being asked, but the special level of defense and athleticism could also push him into the top five.”

Rotoworld’s Ed Isaacson

Emmanuel Mudiay, Guangdong, China, 6-foot-5, point guard

“The Kings have looked for shooting in the lottery the last two years, and while Ben McLemore showed improvement last year, Nik Stauskas struggled. With the focus of the team on DeMarcus Cousins, the Kings should look to shore up the point guard position.”

SB Nation’s Kevin O’Connor

Cauley-Stein

“Cousins wants to play more power forward, and there no better big to pair him with than Cauley-Stein, who could be a transcendent defensive player.”

SI.com’s Chris Mannix

Frank Kaminsky, Wisconsin, 7-foot, forward

“Kaminsky is a smooth shooting big who can score off the dribble and from beyond the three-point line. The Kings have a gaping hole at power forward, and Kaminsky could complement DeMarcus Cousins nicely.”

The Big Lead’s Jason McIntyre

Mudiay

“Mudiay would be a terrific fit for the Kings, who could bring him along slowly in year one, backing up Darren Collison. How about a trio of Mudiay/Gay/Cousins?”

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