Leading Off

With No. 6 pick, Kings could hit or miss

Kenny Smith, picked No. 6 in 1987, talks to reporters at his first Kings’ practice on Oct. 14, 1987. Smith was a sixth-pick success, averaging 15.6 a game for Sacramento.
Kenny Smith, picked No. 6 in 1987, talks to reporters at his first Kings’ practice on Oct. 14, 1987. Smith was a sixth-pick success, averaging 15.6 a game for Sacramento. Dick Gilmore

The Kings likely will have the sixth pick in next month’s NBA draft, unless the balls in the May 19 lottery defy the odds.

The Kings have had the No. 6 pick twice; they took Arkansas center Joe Kleine in 1985, their first season in Sacramento, and North Carolina point guard Kenny Smith in 1987.

Most consider Kleine a bust – he averaged just 4.8 points and 4.1 rebounds – but he played 15 seasons for seven teams, mostly because he was 6-foot-11. Smith did much better, averaging 15.6 points and 7.2 assists in his nearly three seasons with the Kings and 12.8 points and 5.5 assists during his 10-year career.

Just like the Kings, teams have had mixed results with the No. 6 pick.

Here are our three hits and three misses at No. 6 since the Kings moved to Sacramento:

Hits

Damian Lillard, 2012, Portland: The point guard from Weber State has averaged 20.2 points and 6.1 assists and has played in two All-Star Games in his three seasons.

Antoine Walker, 1996, Boston: The 6-8 forward out of Kentucky had his best seasons with the Celtics, before playing for four other teams. He played in three All-Star Games and averaged 17.5 points and 7.7 rebounds in 12 seasons.

Hersey Hawkins, 1988, Los Angeles Clippers: In 13 seasons with four teams, the 6-3 guard averaged 14.7 points and played in one All-Star Game.

Misses

Jan Vesely, 2011, Washington: Remember him? We don’t either. The 6-11 power forward from the Czech Republic averaged 3.6 points and 3.5 rebounds in three seasons.

Ekpe Udoh, 2010, Golden State: The 6-10 forward from Baylor played for three teams in five seasons, averaging 4.0 points and 3.2 rebounds. He’s on the Clippers’ roster, but we can’t say he’s playing for the Clippers. The Warriors reportedly would have picked Kentucky’s DeMarcus Cousins if the Kings hadn’t at No. 5.

William Bedford, 1986, Phoenix: The 7-foot center from Memphis State averaged 4.1 points and 2.4 rebounds for three teams in six seasons. After his career, he was arrested multiple times on drug charges and served eight years in prison.

Tom Couzens

tcouzens@sacbee.com

What to watch

NBA playoffs, Cleveland at Chicago, 12:30 p.m., Ch. 10: LeBron James continues his quest to lead the Cavaliers to a championship.


What to do

Amgen Tour of California, State Capitol, downtown Sacramento: The men’s 126.2-mile first stage starts at 10:50 a.m. and finishes around 3:45 p.m.; the women’s 34-mile third stage begins at 11:15 a.m.

On this date

May 10, 1987: Sleepy Floyd scores 29 of his 51 points in the fourth quarter to lead Golden State to a 129-121 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 4 of the Western Conference semifinals. The Lakers won the series in five games and went on to beat Boston in the NBA Finals.

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