The long awaited verdict of where the Kings will select in the 2017 NBA Draft is now over. With a little luck combined with the remnants from the DeMarcus Cousins trade, the Kings were awarded the 5th and 10th pick in the first round.
As Cousins made his way out of Sacramento, most thought that the picks that were acquired from the New Orleans Pelicans were minor in comparison to Cousins’ talent. Sacramento fans may be on the good end of the spectrum now that the 10th pick could potentially round out the youthful roster.
The 2017 draft will serve as rejuvenation for the franchise as this will be its first draft in six years without Cousins. Without having to formulate their selections around the big, the Kings can now make a small but necessary step in rebuilding a foundation the right way.
A foundation that was started two years ago when drafting big man Willie Cauley-Stein, and continued in the 2016 draft with Skal Labissiere and ongoing with Buddy Hield as part of the Cousins deal.
As you evaluate and take into account how the rebuilding process has gone so far for the Kings, you can begin to see that there is a plan behind the madness.
Cousins departure paved the way for more playing time for Cauley-Stein as he was able to display his offensive talent.
The 23-year-old Cauley-Stein proved that he is not only a defensive threat but also a respected offensive player in the starting lineup. Cauley-Stein averaged 12.9 points and 8.1 rebounds after the trade, more than doubling his scoring average and tripling his rebounding totals from before the trade.
Cauley-Stein was not the only King to be uncorked following the Cousins trade as Labissiere proved to be as much as a core piece to the rebuild as any. Labissiere, once a projected number one prospect out of Kentucky, proved towards the end of the season that he was well deserving of his first round selection.
He played just eight games before Cousins departure but averaged 10.8 points and 6.0 rebounds over the final 25 games.
Completing the three legged horse was the newly acquired shooting guard, Buddy Hield. At first, Hield was looked upon by Kings fans as a poor and microscopic acquisition in exchange for Cousins, but Hield won over the Sacramento faithful.
Once Hield put on the purple and white he averaged 15.1 points per game while shooting 48 percent from the field. As his role expanded and his offensive ability grew, his remaining 25 games as a King almost solidified himself as the rookie of the year.
Vlade Divac and Vivek Ranadive may have had a plan all along and all arrows are pointing towards the 2017 draft. With three of the potential five starting spots potentially taken by Cauley-Stein, Labissiere and Hield, this leaves Sacramento with the opportunity to draft not only a small forward but to draft the point guard of the future. Now, let’s get into draft scenarios.
Draft Scenario 1
All is dandy assuming that the Boston Celtics take Markelle Fultz out of Washington with the first pick and the Los Angeles Lakers select UCLA’s Lonzo Ball with the second pick. But things get ugly at positions 3-5.
The Philadelphia 76ers will have the first picking at the three next best available prospects in Josh Jackson, Jayson Tatum and De’Aaron Fox. Ben Simmons is set to make his NBA debut this upcoming season and the 76er’s have reported that they will play him at the point.
This makes drafting a point guard just a little bit more realistic for Kings fans at the 5th spot. Jackson or Tatum could provide the 76er’s with that large wing that they need in continuing their rebuilding process.
Assuming that the 76er’s take small forward Jackson or Tatum at #3, this leaves either one of them available plus Fox at the fourth pick. The Phoenix Suns are picking fourth and this is where the hopes of drafting Fox at #5 lower.
Down in Phoenix they have one of the best young talents in the game in Devin Booker and could be looking to establish a Kentucky based backcourt of the future by drafting Fox. Or they just choose not to draft Fox because they have another Kentucky guy by the name of Eric Bledsoe who averaged 21.1 points per game and 6.3 assists last season.
Let’s just assume that the Suns want to beef up their wing scoring and draft either Tatum or Jackson. This could be a real option for the Suns depending on their willingness to keep Bledsoe.
And, BOOM. The Kings draft Fox at #5 to accompany Hield, Labissiere and Cauley-Stein. Fox has also been on record saying that he would like to land in Sacramento. That is always a plus.
Now onto the 10th pick. If the Kings are fortunate enough to draft their point guard of the future at five, they run into some complications when wanting to fill the void at small forward with who may be available at #10.
Although the Kings do have a plethora of young big men, Sacramento may have to select another at that slot. Gonzaga’s Zach Collins and Arizona’s Lauri Markkanen will more than likely be available at the 10th spot and their potential is up the roof and almost impossible to pass up.
If the opportunity is there to draft the next best potential talent at #10, the Kings will now have to decide what they will do with the four bigs on the roster.
So there you have it. If the Kings are fortunate enough to draft Fox at five to play alongside Hield, they will “have to” draft either Markkanen or Collins at 10 adding to the barrage of seven footers.
Draft Scenario 2
This scenario is much different than scenario one in that the Kings will be able to draft their point guard and small forward of the future. Assuming that the Celtics and the Lakers take Fultz and Ball at one and two, the Kings may have a stab at a different player than Fox.
If either the Sixers or the Suns decide to take Fox before Sacramento, this leaves Sacramento with no other option other than to draft their wing player of the future in either Tatum or Jackson.
The dominos then fall from there and the Kings are left with the convincing option of drafting their long awaited point guard at the 10th spot.
Projected to be available once the Kings name is called for the second time in the first round is French phenom, Frank Ntilikina. Joining either small forward selected with the 5th pick, Ntilikina could round out the youthful Kings roster and create the framework for years to come. All of this assuming that Dennis Smith Jr. gets selected before the 10th spot that the Kings have no other option but to take Ntilikina.
All in all, scenario two seems like the route that would round out the roster correctly but if Fox is still on the board at five he will be the future in Sacramento.
Both scenarios could also change of course if trades occur and if the Kings plan alters from the ever so obvious. The draft is a little over three weeks away and the Kings have no room to fluster. This draft could potentially make or break the franchise for years to come and down the line could play a major role in attracting free agents.
Tune in to the NBA Draft on June 22nd.