Kings Blog

From Cousins to Papagiannis, the good and bad of the Kings' lottery picks since 2007

The Kings own the NBA's longest current playoff drought at 12 seasons. One major reason is the Kings have struck out in the lottery more times than not.

Tuesday's NBA draft lottery will determine where the Kings select in June. Sacramento (27-55) is slotted seventh after losing a coin flip with the Chicago Bulls.

The Kings do not own their 2019 first-round draft pick, having dealt its rights in a 2015 trade with Philadelphia. So this year's pick is especially important. The Kings need to get closer to finding a talent like DeMarcus Cousins, not more players like Georgios Papagiannis (who lasted less than two seasons) or Thomas Robinson (who didn't finish his rookie season as a King).

Here's a ranking of the Kings' best and worst decisions in the lottery since 2007:

1 — DeMarcus Cousins

2010 draft, fifth pick

Based on talent, Cousins shouldn't have gone any lower than second in the draft, but some questioned his maturity, especially if he ended up in the wrong situation. The Kings weren't ideal, but Cousins still became a three-time All-Star with Sacramento before being traded last season. If the Kings were a more stable situation, Cousins might still be a King and we'd be discussing not if, but when his jersey would be retired by the team.


2 — Tyreke Evans

2009, fourth

Evans won Rookie of the Year, but injuries have prevented him from realizing his full potential. There's also that someone named Stephen Curry was picked three spots after Evans. Still, Evans was a solid pick and a quality NBA player. That can't be said about everyone the Kings have selected in the lottery.

3 — Spencer Hawes

2007, 10th

A center that loved to shoot 3-pointers, Hawes hasn't played in the NBA since 2016-17. But he managed to stay in the league longer than many Kings' lottery picks. Hawes was regularly booed by Kings fans when visiting Sacramento with other teams after supporting the team's potential move to Seattle.

4 — Jason Thompson

2008, 12th

Thompson was solid, but not spectacular with the Kings. Still, he holds the Sacramento-era record for most games played. He's now playing overseas.

5 — Willie Cauley-Stein

2015, sixth

With a more focused approach and improvement, Cauley-Stein has the ability to move up this list. His upcoming fourth season will be important. Consistency is needed from the big man from Kentucky.

6 — Ben McLemore

2013, seventh

Unlike some Kings' lottery picks, he was able to land a multi-year deal after his rookie deal. Inconsistency and an unstable environment and constant coaching changes really set McLemore back. He spent last season as a backup for the Memphis Grizzlies.

7 — Jimmer Fredette

2011, 10th

Acquired in a draft-day trade (the Kings selected Bismack Biyombo with the seventh pick), the former BYU superstar has found success playing overseas, but his collegiate success never translated to his time with the Kings. What makes this hurt more is there were those within the Kings that preferred Klay Thompson (11th) or Kawhi Leonard (15th), who are NBA All-Stars. But Jimmer was popular and you can still spot his jersey on a Kings fan at a game to this day.

8 — Nik Stauskas

2014, eighth

Best known for his nickname, Sauce Castillo, from his rookie season thanks to a closed caption glitch, he lasted just a season in Sacramento before being traded to Philadelphia. He finished last season with Brooklyn and will be looking for a chance to prove he still belongs in the NBA.

9 — Thomas Robinson

2012, fifth

This will be forever known as the pick that could have been Damian Lillard. The Kings drafted Robinson, in part, to protect against losing Thompson in free agency. He was traded during his rookie season and bounced around before playing in Europe this season.

10 — Georgios Papagiannis

2016, 13th

Acquired in a draft-day deal (Sacramento took Marquese Chriss with the eighth pick), this was a curious decision from the start, given the Kings had Cousins and drafted Cauley-Stein a year earlier. The center from Greece was never close to cracking the rotation before being cut in February.

TBD — De'Aaron Fox

2017, fifth

Fox showed promise as a rookie, but the Kings need to see him become more assertive in his role as a team leader. No one denies his talent, but the intangibles and work ethic will determine if Fox becomes the star the team believes he can be.

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