by Charlie O. Mallonee
According to a report from Chad Ford of ESPN, the Sacramento Kings really see De’Aaron Fox of Kentucky as their point guard of the future. The Kings have been looking for a point guard they can build around since trading away Isaiah Thomas in 2014 (the Thomas trade was made by the previous basketball operations management).
Fox – a “one and done” star point guard – was a standout at Kentucky for John Calapari averaging 16.7 points per game and 4.6 assists per game. He is a 52-percent shooter from 2-point range but just a 25-percent shooter form 3-point land. To his credit, Fox’s 3-point shooting did improve considerably late in the season and during the NCAA Tournament.
Because of his talent and speed, Fox is most often compared to Kentucky basketball great John Wall now of the Washington Wizards. Who wouldn’t want the next John Wall on your team? However, how many championships has John Wall won? That would be none. He has helped lead his team into the playoffs but the goal is also a ring and a banner.
What is Fox worth?
The real question is – how much is too much to give up for a player like Fox? Two number one draft picks is too much for a team like the Kings. They have so many needs and having two lottery picks in the most talented draft in decade is not a situation to be squandered. Sacramento needs depth and they have the chance to add young talent that they can have under team control for years to come.
There are two top rated point guards that will be available when the Kings select at number five if Fox is gone. Dennis Smith out of North Carolina State who averaged 18.1 ppg and 6.2 apg will almost certainly be there, and maybe the most intriguing player in the draft will also be there as well.
18-year old point guard Frank Ntilikina who plays in France and who is the “darling of Europe” will be available. Ntilikina is 6-foot-5 “pass first” point guard. He was the European junior player of the year. At just 18, Ntilikina is not considered NBA ready and he is seen as a high risk/high reward selection, but who doesn’t want a 6-foot-5 point guard?
In order to take one of these two point guards, the Kings might need to select them a little higher than they are currently ranked. There is no problem with that. Sometimes, you have to draft for need instead of just drafting the next best player available. That type of creative thinking would allow the Kings to keep both of their lottery picks.
Why are the Kings so concerned?
The Kings are getting nervous because the Lakers are making noise about not taking Ball (would you want to deal with his father?), Philly really needs to think backcourt players, Phoenix has interest in Fox (why they would draft another guard would a mystery but they are the Suns).
The danger for the Kings is they are about to become the Chicago Bears of the NBA Draft. Every team would like to have two lottery picks and might be willing to entertain a deal. Sports professionals everywhere are laughing at the Bears because the 49ers snookered them out of an extra draft pick for nothing. The Kings need to be very careful not to make the very same mistake.
Who can the Kings get with the number 10 pick?
The Kings are projected to have some very interesting possible selections at the number 10 spot. Arizona power forward Lauri Markkanen has been projected to be there. He has been labeled as a Ryan Anderson type player. Center/power forward Zach Collins from Gonzaga is seen as a 10 pick. The very talented small forward Justin Jackson from North Carolina could be there at number 10. If Rudy Gay opts out, the Kings will need someone at the three spot. Jonathan Issac out of Florida State is also a possibility.
On June 22, the Sacramento Kings have the opportunity to change the fortunes of the franchise for the next decade. The brain trust in the basketball operations department led by Vlade Divac cannot afford to take a swing and miss. They must hit a home run with both of their lottery draft selections on that franchise changing night.