One draft pick, infinite possibilities.
As Thursday creeps closer, the Sacramento Kings front office is continually reminded the stakes at hand with their sixth overall selection. De facto general manager Vlade Divac will make his very first personnel decision, and that choice should be telling for the franchise’s vision.
Anything is possible, including a blockbuster trade featuring DeMarcus Cousins, but barring the nuclear holocaust we have five burning questions for the Kings’ 2015 draft.
Shooting or playmaking for the Kings?
Last season the Kings ranked 26th in assists and steals and 28th in blocks and 3-point makes, so help anywhere would suffice. If the Kings prioritize shooting, prospects Mario Hezonja, Justise Winslow and Stanley Johnson would need consideration. As for playmaking, Emmanuel Mudiay is a perfect fit if he falls to the sixth selection. Of course Sacramento could target a player that blends both qualities such as ball handler Cameron Payne or big man Frank Kaminsky.
Do the Kings think long-term or win-now?
After nine straight losing seasons, patience in Sacramento is wearing thin. Fueling the pressure to improve immediately is the opening of the downtown Golden 1 Arena in 2016. Trading the No. 6 pick for an NBA veteran, or drafting a near-surefire commodity in Willie Cauley-Stein or Kaminsky is widely speculated given the circumstances. Should the Kings ignore the temptation to find help immediately and instead target long-term potential, Mudiay, Hezonja and Kristaps Porzingis are enticing high-ceiling options.
Will the Kings trade up to No. 4?
Speaking of weighing the present and future, the New York Knicks find themselves in the same boat. If top guard D’Angelo Russell is unavailable at No. 4, the Knicks will explore trading the pick to add assets around 31-year-old Carmelo Anthony. Still promising and affordable shooting guards Ben McLemore and Nik Stauskas are the wild cards here. If the Kings packaged one of the former lottery picks with the sixth selection, it may be enough for the Knicks to pull the trigger. Sacramento’s urgency and interest in Mudiay, Porzingis or Cauley-Stein would be the motivating factor in such an offer.
Will the Kings acquire draft picks?
The sixth pick retains strong value in this year’s draft class, so Sacramento is sure to receive offers to trade down. The Kings’ lack of pre-draft workouts as opposed to past summers may suggest an unconcern in adding picks, but it’s important to note the team had been scouting prospects throughout the regular season. Considering owner Vivek Ranadive’s deep pockets, don’t be surprised if Sacramento opts to purchase a second round pick from a thrifty club outright.
Can the Kings unload Jason Thompson and/or Carl Landry?
Thompson and Landry are fine role players yet less than ideal fits in the frontcourt next to Cousins. The Kings would be ecstatic to trade one or both, but rival general managers have been hesitant to take on their salaries. Landry is guaranteed $6.5 million next season and the same in 2016-17. Thompson will make roughly $6.4 million in 2015-16 and is scheduled to earn $6.8 million (only $2.7 million guaranteed) in 2016-17. While they don’t hold the appeal of expiring contracts, both can work as fillers if the Kings decide to package the No. 6 pick in a trade for a high-priced veteran. Moving Thompson or the currently injured Landry without the lottery pick is a pipe dream.