Another Draft Lottery and another disappointment for the city that bleeds purple. While draft conspiracy theorists were rumoring that David Stern was going to make one of the most memorable comeback stories in NBA history even greater by rigging the 2013 draft probability reared it’s ugly head again. The draft is not, nor has it ever been fixed. Kings fans should just be happy that the ball was only called one position earlier than probability suggested it would. In actuality, 7 was the second most likely outcome for the Kings, so things are actually not too far off.
The real question is what will the Kings do with the 7th pick in a consensus weak draft? It’s likely that Geoff Petrie is not going to be retained once his contract expires in June. Keith Smart is currently walking a tight rope, which many think he will soon fall from. With numerous front office questions looming after the change of ownership this draft and offseason is arguably one of the most critical in the franchises history.
A few semi-certainties bearing an unforeseen injury or mental breakdown both Ben McLemore of Kansas and Nerlens Noel of Kentucky will be drafted with the first two picks. So who does that leave? The simple answer is about 50 others; however, there are 5 that we’ve managed to put on our short list that could be available at the 7th pick that may fit the Kings.
#5 Michael Carter-Williams: Carter-Williams is an athletic point guard with a knack for finding open players. A true point guard with size (Carter-Williams is listed at 6’6” on NBADRAFT.NET) is something that the Kings have needed for years. A pass first guy who controls game flow and the majority of the possessions in an offense that has a tendency to dribble itself to death would be a welcome sight. The downside is he’s got a Rajon Rondo jumper (in other words he doesn’t have one) and is often times too passive. Additionally, while Carter-Williams has a high ceiling he also carries a low basement. Only time will tell with this kid, as many do not believe he is NBA ready. This is definitely a project player, but who else to learn from than the ultra-driven Isaiah Thomas?
#4 Alex Len: In a world of Demarcus Cousins there are no guarantees. How will Cousins come into camp? If there is a new coach will they gel and have a love affair like he did with Keith Smart, or will he resist instruction and cause problems like he did with Keith Smart? The point is Cousins behavior is as unpredictable as the draft. Alex Len would make sense as he is a solid kid standing at over 7’ and 255lbs. Len has a lot of upside with a very instinctive feel for shot blocking. He possesses good timing as well as decent discipline when defending on the block. He runs the floor well and has a good motor. He is a good uptempo big for a young team that excels with pushing the ball up the court. The knock on Len is that he is currently injured with a 6 week time table for return. This means that he may not be able to perform at the Kings individual workouts, so what they know, is what they know.
#3 Cody Zeller: The Kings may eye Zeller if his post tournament slide continues. Originally projected as a top 3 pick to start this NCAA basketball season, Zeller has seen a gradual slide with a poor performance in the tournament and the emergence of teammate Victor Oladipo. As Zeller began his decent down the big board the NBA combine interrupted, along with the eye-popping number Zeller posted. Zeller showed tremendous athletic ability with great scores in vertical, both standing and max, as well as quick lateral movement and speed. Zeller has the height to play center, but is currently considered a bit of tweener because of his strength and deficiencies in establishing a defensive presence. If a safe NBA caliber player is what the Kings are looking for, Cody Zeller may be the best option should he still be around.
#2 Trey Burke: A solid point guard with a good jump shot and plenty of leadership skills that would provide an immediate impact on a young team. Burke is the type of player who will go 100% on every possession and refuse to lose. Burke shot 80% from the free throw line and excels coming off screens. His ball handling skills are above average and so is his perimeter defensive ability. Burke has a killer instinct that few other NBA prospects have and that intangible may be the best asset this Michigan sophomore has going for him. His size is the main concern for many NBA teams as he is just a shade over 6’ tall and did not have great combine numbers. Sometimes General Managers have to assess talent and desire vs a prototypical body type. In this case Trey Burke’s desire outweighs his frame. While not a great standout there is no reason Burke cannot start on many lottery teams this year. The kings are unlikely going to be fortunate enough to have Burke fall to 7, but if he does I can’t imagine them not taking him.
#1 Otto Porter: The holy grail of potential number 7’s is Otto Porter. He is a tall athletic 3 with the ability to shoot the long ball and defend on the wing. Porter, who played at Georgetown, led a lackluster squad to an impressive regular season record before being upset in the first round of the tournament last year. Porter possesses a mature feel for the game that allows him to play like a much more seasoned player. He makes great decisions with the ball and can seemingly do it all. His jump shot is fundamentally very good and consistent connecting on 42% of his three point attempts. Porter’s overall field goal percentage was 49% this year showing drastic improvement from his freshman season. Porters freshman to sophomore improvement shows his sky high potential and that’s why teams are drooling over this 6’9” prospect. There are too many upsides to not draft Porter in the top 5, but if for some reason he does slip to 7 it will be because his slight frame and lack of lateral quickness. With the NBA game moving further out from the basket it’s easy to see why he might have difficulty guarding 3’s on the perimeter.
Those are the top 5 reasonable options for the Sacramento Kings that currently have voids that need to be filled at the Small Forward and Point Guard position. With uncertainties of resigning Tyreke Evans, who is a restricted free agent, and the turmoil that comes with Demarcus Cousins it’s impossible to determine the direction the franchise will take. What do you think?