Kings Blog

Kings need a playmaker, not another shooter

Ohio State guard D'Angelo Russell, right, drives against Virginia Commonwealth guard JeQuan Lewis during the first half of in the secound round of the NCAA college basketball tournament in Portland, Ore., Thursday, March 19, 2015.
Ohio State guard D'Angelo Russell, right, drives against Virginia Commonwealth guard JeQuan Lewis during the first half of in the secound round of the NCAA college basketball tournament in Portland, Ore., Thursday, March 19, 2015. AP

The Kings’ search for outside shooters seems never-ending.

The past two years, the Kings believed they selected the best perimeter shooter in the NBA draft.

Now, as Tuesday’s 2015 NBA draft lottery approaches, Sacramento is looking for … perimeter shooting.

But the Kings aren’t a few three-pointers from making the playoffs. And they’ve shown they can’t rely on a rookie to boost their perimeter shooting.

The Kings need playmakers, which they’ve consistently overlooked in recent drafts in pursuit of the next Peja Stojakovic. Drafting another outside shooter would add to the logjam of players with potential, especially if the draft pick is no better than what they already have.

6 The Kings’ draft position pending Tuesday’s NBA lottery

“I think they’ve got to be careful,” ESPN analyst Fran Fraschilla said. “They’re in that range where they don’t want to reach and take a guy with maybe top-15 talent just because it’s a need. My suggestion to the Kings would be take the best available player and hope that guy is a shooter.”

The Kings’ obsession with shooting the past two years led to them passing on two point guards who aren’t perfect but would have added needed size in the backcourt. Six-foot-6 Michael Carter-Williams was the Rookie of the Year in 2014, and 6-4 Elfrid Payton was one of the best rookies last season. But they aren’t knockdown shooters, making them less desirable.

The Kings, however, could have used another player skilled at setting up teammates, which might have improved their shooters’ percentages.

Since Sacramento drafted center DeMarcus Cousins in 2010, three of their four first-round picks or draft-day acquisitions have been highly touted shooters.

Despite his immense popularity, guard Jimmer Fredette didn’t pan out and was released. Shooting guard Ben McLemore, the seventh pick in 2013, has shown signs of improvement, but he was inconsistent for much of his second season, and the firings of coach Michael Malone and assistant Chris Jent affected his growth. It’s too early to judge Nik Stauskas, the No. 8 pick a year ago.

“As I look at the Kings right now, I think they’d be fortunate if a guy like (Ohio State point guard) D’Angelo Russell slid to six if (Duke’s Justise) Winslow goes earlier than I have him projected,” Fraschilla said.

General manager Pete D’Alessandro’s regime passed on Carter-Williams and Payton. Three years ago, Geoff Petrie’s regime bypassed point guard Damian Lillard, who became an All-Star, for Thomas Robinson.

D’Alessandro used other means to add depth at point guard, but the results are inconclusive at best. Darren Collison was playing the best of his career for the Kings, but an injury limited him to just 45 games last season.

The two best point guards the Kings have had in recent years – Tyreke Evans and Isaiah Thomas – were dealt in sign-and-trades with minimal returns.

D’Alessandro packaged what he got for Evans (Greivis Vasquez) to help land Rudy Gay, but the Kings have nothing to show for Thomas, and Phoenix eventually flipped him for a ex-King Marcus Thornton and a first-round pick.

Evans, run out of Sacramento because he was considered more of a small forward or shooting guard, started at point for New Orleans in the playoffs, and Thomas helped lead Boston to the playoffs.

Still desperately searching for playmakers at any position, the Kings ended this past season using Andre Miller, who turned 39 in March, heavy minutes to have a pass-first player on the court.

“To me, point guard and shooting are the two areas they must shore up,” Fraschilla said, “and if D’Angelo Russell slid to the Kings, they would find themselves in a very, very fortuitous position.

“I would not reach and take someone they do not think is in the top six, like (Wisconsin’s Frank) Kaminsky or (Murray State’s) Cameron Payne or (Kentucky’s) Devin Booker. I would take the best player available and find shooting somewhere else.”

Jason Jones: @mr_jasonjones, read more about the team at sacbee.com/kings.

NBA draft lottery

  • When: Tuesday, 5:30 p.m.
  • TV: ESPN
  • Kings’ odds: No. 1, 6.3%; No. 2, 7.1%; No. 3, 8.1%; No. 6, 43.9%; No. 7, 30.5%; No. 8: 4%; No. 9, 0.1%
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