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Kings prepare for NBA draft without hosting top prospects

Top 5 prospects expected to be available with Kings' 8th pick

The Bee's Jason Jones knows that the Kings' front office is going to have to put in some work in order to find a player that can shore up multiple holes on both sides of the ball for the Sacramento Kings. Kings' decision makers are confident there
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The Bee's Jason Jones knows that the Kings' front office is going to have to put in some work in order to find a player that can shore up multiple holes on both sides of the ball for the Sacramento Kings. Kings' decision makers are confident there

The Kings wrapped up their predraft workouts Monday without hosting a top prospect in Thursday’s NBA draft.

Some players, heeding their agents’ advice, are selective about where they work out, especially if a team is picking lower than where they expect to be chosen. In some cases, a prospect or his agent might not want a particular team to draft him, and declining a workout invitation reinforces that notion.

The Kings will pick eighth, yet the top players projected to be available did not visit Sacramento. The highest-regarded prospect who worked out was Vanderbilt guard Wade Baldwin, projected to be taken in the middle of the first round.

I tried to evaluate, appreciate and investigate how the process worked here and show respect to that. And I made sure I highlighted the things that were very valuable ... while also bringing some of the processes that I’ve seen elsewhere that would complement what they were doing here.

Kings assistant general manager Ken Catanella

Hosting players for visits or workouts is just part of the assessment process.

“It’s important, but I would always say we’re looking at a guy’s body of work,” Kings assistant general manager Ken Catanella said. “It is a small piece, but you still want to, if you haven’t had the opportunity to interview a player at the combine perhaps, or you haven’t had the opportunity to see a guy live, it never hurts. But again, you take the available information you have, and you make the most of it.”

Last year with the sixth pick, general manager Vlade Divac selected center Willie Cauley-Stein, who came to Sacramento for a workout. The Kings passed on point guard Emmanuel Mudiay, a player many rated higher than Cauley-Stein, partly because he didn’t work out for the team.

But the Kings also wanted more immediate help at point guard, so they signed Rajon Rondo rather than wait for a rookie to develop behind veteran Darren Collison.

This year, the Kings probably will use their first-round pick on a player who did not work out for them. Several teams have had success selecting players they interviewed at the draft combine or elsewhere but didn’t host for a workout. Stephen Curry didn’t visit the Golden State Warriors, but they chose him at No. 7 in 2009.

Sometimes teams already have seen a prospect play extensively or attended a workout held by the player to showcase his skills for multiple teams.

“In some cases, you feel confident enough ... (so) it’s not worth costing yourself an opportunity with a player that you like,” Catanella said. “But also I think if you do have that opportunity to sit down with a guy and break bread with them, potentially see them work out against other players or by himself, it never hurts. More information is valuable.”

This will be Catanella’s first draft with the Kings, who hired him in late April partly to play a key role in the draft evaluation process. He brings another voice to the discussion and experience to the front office. When Catanella was with the Detroit Pistons, they used the draft, trades and free agency to build one of the league’s most promising teams.

“I tried to evaluate, appreciate and investigate how the process worked here and show respect to that,” Catanella said. “And I made sure I highlighted the things that were very valuable ... while also bringing some of the processes that I’ve seen elsewhere that would complement what they were doing here.”

Catanella said the Kings’ front office worked together to determine the best way to approach this draft “given the short time frame and that I haven’t been here with (director of scouting) Mike (Bratz) and the scouts on the college side the whole season.”

Catanella said the Kings allow everyone involved in the draft and scouting to express their opinion.

In some cases, you feel confident enough ... (so) it’s not worth costing yourself an opportunity with a player that you like. But also I think if you do have that opportunity to sit down with a guy and break bread with them, potentially see them work out against other players or by himself, it never hurts. More information is valuable.

Kings assistant general manager Ken Catanella

“I think the process has gone well, and I think it will get better each year,” Catanella said.

Jaleel Cousins, younger brother of Kings All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins, took part in a six-player predraft workout at the Kings practice facility on Saturday, June 18, 2016. Jaleel, a 6-foot-11, 250 lbs. center recently finished his senior seas

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

NBA draft

  • When: Thursday, 4:30 p.m.
  • Where: Barclays Center, New York
  • TV: ESPN, 4 p.m.
  • No. 1 pick: Philadelphia
  • Kings’ picks: Nos. 8, 59
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