Kings Blog

As draft approaches, Kings remain vague on plans

Kings general manager Vlade Divac, left, owner Vivek Ranadive, center, and Dean Oliver, director of analytics talk during a Kings pre-draft workout at their practice facility on Thursday, June 4, 2015 in Sacramento.
Kings general manager Vlade Divac, left, owner Vivek Ranadive, center, and Dean Oliver, director of analytics talk during a Kings pre-draft workout at their practice facility on Thursday, June 4, 2015 in Sacramento. rpench@sacbee.com

Vlade Divac has an idea what the Kings will do with the sixth overall pick in Thursday’s NBA draft.

That’s if the Kings keep their pick.

Divac, the vice president of basketball and franchise operations, watched the Kings’ final predraft workout Monday before discussing the team’s draft plans in the typically vague fashion executives use this time of year.

“We know exactly what we’re looking for if we end up sixth,” Divac said. “If that guy’s available, we’ll see.”

The Kings have several needs and could justify selecting several different players. Kentucky center Willie Cauley-Stein, Duke forward Justise Winslow, Croatian forward Mario Hezonja, Murray State guard Cameron Payne and former All-America high school guard Emmanuel Mudiay, who played in China last season, are among those on the Kings’ radar.

Of that group, only Payne and Cauley-Stein visited Sacramento for a workout. The Kings were unable to secure workouts with Mudiay and Winslow, both of whom auditioned for other teams. Hezonja was still playing for his Spanish League club, FC Barcelona, during the predraft process.

Divac said players who did not work out for the Kings aren’t necessarily ruled out as possible selections.

“It’s a minus, but we’ll see,” Divac said. “If that guy is going to improve our team, we’re not going to be stubborn and not pick the guy who can improve us. If we have the same (level of) guy there and one guy worked with us and the other didn’t, we’ll go with the guy that worked with us.”

The player most likely to fit that scenario would be Mudiay, who has been considered a top-four pick. But he could fall out of the top four if Hezonja and Latvian big man Kristaps Porzingis move into the top five.

Divac also is open to a trade before or during the draft. He said he, interim general manager Mike Bratz and top scout George McCloud agree on which players fit the Kings and whom they should target at No. 6 or if the team moves back in the order.

“It’s hard to move up,” Divac said. “It’s more likely we stay No. 6.”

The Kings need better defense, shooting, overall basketball IQ and playmaking.Coach George Karl has said he needs more players willing to make the easy and correct basketball play.

Divac isn’t looking to address a specific area with the Kings’ selection.

“We may do something before the draft, so we don’t know what we really need right now,” Divac said. “... If we make some moves before then, we’ll see what we need to improve our team.”

The Kings also could use more players suitable for Karl’s preferred up-tempo style. Karl believes a coach must adapt his philosophy to his roster, but Divac would rather add players who complement Karl’s vision.

“I have to think about that, too, the style of basketball,” Divac said. “If we’re going to pick somebody and Coach is not going to play him – we don’t want to waste a pick. I want to be sure this guy is good in the long term but can also fit what coach likes.”

One of those players might be Wisconsin forward Frank Kaminsky, who worked out with three others for the Kings on Monday.

Kaminsky is 7-foot-1 with three-point shooting range. He helped the Badgers reach the NCAA championship game and was the national Player of the Year after averaging 18.8 points and 8.2 rebounds as a senior.

The 22-year-old Kaminsky is an older prospect in an era when many NBA prospects spend one season in college before declaring for the draft. Staying in school longer often leads to questions of whether a player can improve more than he has shown.

“I hear a lot of people trying to tell me I’ve tapped my potential, and that’s just not true,” Kaminsky said. “I know I have so much more left in me, and I’m going to continue to improve as much as I can.”

Kaminsky is projected to go in the first round. The Kings likely would trade down to select him.

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

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