Sacramento Kings

Kings’ draft performance mostly fails to make experts’ grades

Georgios Papagiannis answers questions during an interview after being selected 13th overall by the Phoenix Suns during the NBA draft on Thursday night in New York. Papagiannis was later traded to the Kings.
Georgios Papagiannis answers questions during an interview after being selected 13th overall by the Phoenix Suns during the NBA draft on Thursday night in New York. Papagiannis was later traded to the Kings. The Associated Press

Basketball experts were left shaking and scratching their heads over the Kings’ performance in Thursday night’s NBA draft, during which the team acquired centers Georgios Papagiannis and Skal Labissiere, guards Malachi Richardson and Isaiah Cousins, and traded area prep standout Marquese Chriss (Elk Grove) to the Phoenix Suns after drafting him with the No. 8 overall pick.

Here’s a sampling of how the Kings’ draft is being viewed:

Grade: C-

“This was a directionless draft for a directionless organization. Yes, Richardson and Labissiere could develop into serviceable NBA players (and Richardson could one day be a star), but that is three or four years down the road. And with DeMarcus Cousins closing in on 26 years old, Sacramento doesn't have three or four more years to waste waiting for everyone else around Boogie to develop. If I were Cousins, I’d walk into the owner's office and demand a trade tomorrow.”

Grade: D+

Papagiannis is massive, standing at 7’2” and weighing 240 pounds. He’s an incredibly strong prospect with good low-post skills, though there are some questions about his motor. And that’s troubling, especially since it was a massive reach for the Kings to take him in the lottery. The value here is just plain awful, even factoring in the other assets Sacramento got for the No. 8 selection. Plus, why are the Kings using their top pick on a 5 when the roster’s two centerpieces – DeMarcus Cousins and Willie Cauley-Stein – both line up in the frontcourt?

Grade: B-

“The team took Papagiannis as its most important player of the night when I'm not sure anyone else had him in the top 20 of their board and they already have two true centers in Cousins and Willie Cauley-Stein. That made no sense. Labissiere is a great value, but he’s a project, and the Kings don’t exactly exude the exterior of petrie dish for player development. If Chriss breaks out and becomes a star for Phoenix, it’s going to be tough for the Kings to look back on this deal fondly.”

Grade: D

“Skal was considered a can’t-miss star in the making this time last year. Richardson is a good athlete, but if his shot selection at Syracuse makes its way to the NBA, all the hairs in Dave Joerger’s goatee will have fallen out by December.”

Grade: C+

“I loved Cousins at No. 59. He’s one of the most underrated players in the draft. Frankly – and ironically – he could end up as the best NBA player of this Kings draft class.”

Grade: D+

“They traded Marquese Chriss, which we don’t love, and they took some projects in Greek center Georgios Papagiannis (No. 13) and Kentucky forward Skal Labissiere (No. 28). They did get Malachi Richardson while dumping Marco Belinelli, though, and the hope is that he’s the shooter they’ve been searching for after striking out on Ben McLemore and Nik Stauskas in recent years.”

Grade: B-

“The Kings were super active trading pretty much everything they had for new assets. Adding Richardson for Belinelli is a steal, even if you’re not high on Malachi. Trading back in the draft for Papagiannis at No. 13 wasn’t ideal, but the Kings made up for it with the next three picks. Labissiere has bust written all over him, but he’s worth a shot.”

Grade: F

“ ... it looked like they traded the No. 8 pick to get a mid- and a late first-round pick so to not have to draft a big man in that mid-lottery position. Instead, they drafted two bigs to further cloud up their frontcourt rotation. That’s completely flawed logic and, if you’re one of the many that subscribe to the theory that the Kings are a hapless and hopeless organization, this only seemed to further that point.”

Grade: C

“The Kings made some good moves but a couple of iffy ones Thursday night. They added more unproven bigs (Papagiannis, Labissiere) to a frontcourt that already has DeMarcus Cousins and Willie Cauley-Stein. I don’t mind their guard/wing picks as much, partially because they’re actually addressing deficiencies. Richardson is a good calculated risk, a high-upside asset in exchange for middle-tier wing Marco Belinelli, and Cousins offers shooting.”

Compiled by Stu Rosenberg

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