There is a greater sense of normalcy to the Kings’ draft process this year.
There is no ownership change. The outgoing front office team isn’t coordinating workouts with the incoming coach.
The general manager won’t be hired with less than a month to prepare.
The Kings begin hosting college prospects for pre-draft workouts this morning with the first of two four-player sessions.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Sacramento Bee
General manager Pete D’Alessandro is much more comfortable this year preparing for the workouts. Last year, he was playing catch-up with the Kings after being hired in June.
“A lot of talking with agents right now, lining things up,” D’Alessandro said. “I think there are a lot of strategies that are employed by agencies, agents and players through the process and you have to work through the process.”
That process includes convincing players to visit Sacramento for workouts, which begin with two prospects considered worthy of the Kings’ consideration with the eighth overall pick.
Indiana forward/center Noah Vonleh and Oklahoma State guard Marcus Smart highlight the first workout, which also includes Oregon State forward/center Eric Moreland and Louisiana-Lafayette guard Elfrid Payton.
The second workout features one possible lottery pick, Syracuse guard Tyler Ennis. UTEP center John Bohannon, Saint Mary’s guard Stephen Holt and Pepperdine forward/center Brendan Lane will join Ennis. Lane is a former Rocklin High School standout who began his college career at UCLA.
Vonleh, who played one season at Indiana, is one of the best big men available in the draft. The Kings have been seeking the ideal power forward to play alongside DeMarcus Cousins, and Vonleh, should he be available, could be a fit. The Kings want an athletic big man with good defensive skills.
Smart and Ennis are point guards. Smart played two college seasons, and Ennis played one season.
Smart is the most intriguing of the bunch. He might have been a top-three pick in last year’s weaker draft class, but he returned to college partly because he needed to improve his perimeter shooting.
Last season, Smart made headlines after shoving a Texas Tech fan late in a loss. He was suspended for three games.
At last month’s draft combine, Smart said the incident had come up in all of his interviews with teams and reporters. But he didn’t appear frustrated when the topic was brought up, saying when a team is going to invest “millions” of dollars, the questions are bound to come.
Smart said the second season at Oklahoma State benefited him, even if most have him ranked behind Australian phenom Dante Exum among point guards in the draft.
“My maturity level grew even more,” Smart said. “I was able to go through some things that will help me in life, not just in basketball. I learned to become more of a true point guard.”
The Kings could need a point guard because Isaiah Thomas will be a restricted free agent and if he comes back, Thomas could be used as a sixth man.
D’Alessandro doesn’t sound as if he’ll be overly swayed by workouts, but he said they are valuable to see how the player interacts with coaches.
“I think you have to look at it as the full body of work,” D’Alessandro said. “I think every workout is a small blip on the screen of their basketball career and we have to look at the big picture.”
The Kings don’t have a second-round pick, which they traded to Toronto for James Johnson in July 2012. But D’Alessandro said the Kings’ reputation for aggressively pursuing deals is helping them lure second-round talent for workouts.
Some have declined to work out with the Kings because they don’t have a second-round choice, but overall, D’Alessandro said the reception has been good.
The Kings have made it known they would like to add a pick if a deal can be reached.
“Our ownership group has put their money where their mouth is,” D’Alessandro said. “For us there would be no need to look at second-round pick (talent) if there was no real option, and that is an option.”