De'Aaron Fox likes the Kings' young players
Perhaps the most important part of the Kings’ offseason is not in their control.
On Tuesday evening, coach Dave Joerger will represent the Kings at the NBA draft lottery, sitting on a stage in Secaucus, N.J., hoping all the things his team did in February to shake up the direction of the franchise leads to two top-10 picks in a what is being called a deep and talented draft class by several league observers.
The Kings enter the lottery holding the eighth and 10th positions, with the second pick coming from New Orleans in February’s trade of DeMarcus Cousins.
If nothing surprising happens, the Kings will select from those two spots in the NBA draft on June 22.
But if the ping-pong balls do not fall as the odds indicate they should, there are multiple stipulations attached to the Kings’ selections that could change their draft status.
First, the Kings cannot win the No. 1 pick due to their 2015 salary dump of Jason Thompson, Carl Landry and Nik Stauskas – a deal that sent the trio to Philadelphia to clear out space under the salary cap. That move gave the 76ers the right to swap picks with the Kings.
The best scenario the Kings could hope for is a No. 2 pick with the 76ers winning the lottery.
There is also a stipulation attached to the New Orleans pick. It is top-3 protected, so the Pelicans would keep the selection if they draw that high.
There’s also the very unlikely chance that three teams behind the Kings move ahead of them, knocking Sacramento’s own pick from eighth to 11th.
Should that happen, the Kings’ pick would go to Chicago via Cleveland from the team’s 2011 trade for J.J. Hickson. Sacramento’s pick is top-10 protected.
Assuming the Kings don’t have bad luck Tuesday, they will have two picks in June that could help bring cornerstone players to a franchise that just finished its 11th consecutive losing season.
The Kings’ most glaring need in the draft is at point guard. It is widely believed that there are at least five worthy of being selected among the 14 lottery teams.
Sacramento’s top two point guards last season, Darren Collison and Ty Lawson, will both be free agents this summer. Even though the Kings’ need for a point guard is an annual discussion, Sacramento has not used a first-round pick on the position since 2011, when it was believed Jimmer Fredette could play the position.
The Kings also need to consider selecting a small forward for the future.
Rudy Gay said he will opt out of his contract and explore free agency this summer. The Kings are not opposed to re-signing Gay, but they could be outbid by a winning team that can offer Gay the chance to make the playoffs next season.
It’s another position the Kings have not used on draft picks for quite some time. The last time the Kings drafted a small forward in the first round was Omri Casspi in 2009.
The Kings’ first-round picks recently have primarily been big men or shooting guards. In two drafts under general manager Vlade Divac, the Kings selected two centers (Willie Cauley-Stein, Georgios Papagiannis), one power forward (Skal Labissiere) and a shooting guard (Malachi Richardson).
Sacramento also acquired a rookie shooting guard, Buddy Hield, in the Cousins trade.
NBA draft lottery odds
A look at the teams entered in Tuesday’s NBA draft lottery and their odds of landing the No. 1 overall pick (Note: Kings cannot pick higher than Philadelphia 76ers):
Boston Celtics (via Brooklyn Nets) 25 percent
Phoenix Suns 19.9
Los Angeles Lakers 15.6
Philadelphia 76ers 11.9
Orlando Magic 8.8
Minnesota Timberwolves 5.3
New York Knicks 5.3
Dallas Mavericks 1.7
Kings (via New Orleans Pelicans) 1.1
Charlotte Hornets 0.8
Detroit Pistons 0.7
Denver Nuggets 0.6
Miami Heat 0.5