Kings coach George Karl has said repeatedly he will not be a major voice in whom the Kings select in Thursday’s NBA draft.
That is, unless he sees a player who would be a difference maker, and Karl doesn’t expect that at No. 6 overall.
“If we’re getting into players who can probably play 30 minutes (per game) for me, I’m probably going to be aggressive,” Karl said. “ ... I don’t think any guy at six is going to play 30 minutes for us next year. I think most of these guys we’re considering are 19-year-old kids that are going to have to grow up a little bit.”
It’s probably best that Karl and the Kings have modest expectations. Sacramento is more than one or two players from being a playoff team, and the Kings’ first-round pick will need to be molded into a professional who can contribute.
Many prospects have only one season of college experience or are young players from overseas.
“If I’m a basketball sociologist, I’m saying the one-and-done stuff has not been good for the game. I can buy that,” Karl said. “I can buy that AAU basketball probably hasn’t been good for college or pro basketball, but no one wants to hear that.”
Karl said the preferred message is that, with time, a coaching staff can turn prospects into competent NBA players.
“Not one or two” players, Karl said. “We’ve probably got to do three or four to get this roster into a better place.”
Karl is optimistic the Kings will find help in the draft.
“I think where we’re at is a positive place,” Karl said. “If we keep six, we kind of know what we’re going to do. If we don’t keep six and we can turn it into two players, that would be exciting.”
Karl said it’s best for a young player to be on a good team that doesn’t need him to contribute immediately. But the Kings lack the luxury of time.
“It’s a little different when you play a guy and his bad performance creates a loss,” Karl said. “Keeping the harmony of your team and the hypocrisy of your team under control is a little different.”
Karl said the Kings’ priorities are defenders, possibly a shotblocker or an aggressive one-on-one defender on the perimeter, and intelligent players.
Sacramento hosted four players, including first-round prospects Sam Dekker of Wisconsin and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson from Arizona, in its second-to-last predraft workout Sunday.
The Kings will host Wisconsin star Frank Kaminsky, a 7-foot-1 center, on Monday.
Many prospects who could be available, such as guard Emmanuel Mudiay from the Chinese league and Duke small forward Justise Winslow, did not work out for the Kings. Winslow did for Denver, which picks seventh.
“I’m not going to deny I’m not happy when they (do not work out),” Karl said. “We’re one of the 30 teams, and you’re going to be picky? I think sometimes we should be more dogmatic there. Again, that’s up to the decision makers.”
Hollis-Jefferson, a 6-7 small forward, traveled from the East Coast for the workout. One of the draft’s better defenders, he said it was his 11th.
“As far as offensively, there are some things that I like and I’m only going to get better at those, so the sky’s the limit,” said Hollis-Jefferson, who is expected to be selected in the second half of the first round.
Hollis-Jefferson was able to match up with Dekker, a 6-9 small forward and one of the better offensive players in the draft. Dekker said going against Hollis-Jefferson made for one of his toughest workouts.
“(He’s) absolutely a guy who prides himself on defense,” Dekker said. “And as a good offensive player, you want to show you can go against those guys.”
- When: Thursday
- Where: Brooklyn, N.Y.
- TV: 4 p.m., ESPN
- Kings pick: No. 6 in first round