by Charlie O. Mallonee
Right at the top of this story – let me say that it is time for the NBA Lottery to go away. Yes, it creates some interesting discussions during the playoffs for the fans of non-playoff teams, but the purpose of the inverse draft is to allow the worst teams in your league to obtain top talent to become competitive again.
The National Basketball Association is a worldwide marketing behemoth that is spreading its brand across the globe at a lighting pace. The NBA no longer needs gimmicks like the Draft Lottery when they have Steph Curry, James Harden, LeBron, Russell Westbrook and the 3-point shot to captivate fans for 48 minutes per game. The game itself is enough to market to the fans. No gimmicks are needed at this time.
The Kings got lucky and then got ******!
The problem with the whole scenario is the Kings did this to themselves. The Kings made a deal with the Philadelphia 76ers to trade number one picks if the Kings selection was a better pick than the Sixers pick in 2017 as a part of a salary dump trade in 2015. That trade also cost Sacramento their 2014 first-round pick shooting guard Nik Stauskas. And if that is not enough, the Sixers get the Kings first-pick unprotected in 2019 now that Chicago can no longer receive a first-round selection from Sacramento.
Confused? Nate Silverman and former Secretary of Labor Dr. Robert Reich will be holding a seminar at UC-Berkeley on Wednesday to sort the situation out for “die-hard NBA fans” (that’s not true).
The Kings came into the lottery with the eighth worst record in the NBA. Sacramento has never been particularly lucky when it comes to the ping-pong balls on Lottery Night. On Tuesday night, the Kings jumped from number eight to number three. For a brief moment, Sacramento became the luckiest team in the lottery. Then the Philadelphia 76ers raised their hand and said we’ll take that pick.
The Kings immediately fell back to number five in lottery order. They still made a major move from number eight to number five, but the fact is that for “one shining moment” Sacramento was number three in the order.
There were many loud and demonstrative discussions going on over beer and shots in sports bars all over the Sacramento area on Tuesday night about what had just happened to their beloved Kings.
The Kings will also pick at number 10 thanks to DMC and the Pelicans
The Kings will have two lottery selections because of the DeMarcus Cousins trade to New Orleans. That pick was protected if it had been an one to three pick. It held at its pre-lottery spot of number 10. In this talented laden 2017 draft, the Kings are sure to have the opportunity to draft a high quality prospect with that selection.
Will that player be another DeMarcus Cousins? Probably not. Will he be a highly talented player that Kings can build around to become a playoff contender? The answer is probably yes.
Who will be available at number five?
Tankathon.com (my new personal favorite site for many reasons) has the Kings taking small forward Jonathan Isaac out of Florida State at number five. He is 6-11 and would have just turned 20 years old as the season starts. He averaged 12.0 points per game along with 7.8 rebounds and 1.5 blocked shots per game. If Rudy Gay does opt out of his contract, the Kings will need a small forward.
Draft Express says the Kings will wind up with Kentucky’s fine point guard De’Aaron Fox with the number five selection. Finding a young point guard who can be with the club for the long-haul has been a goal the Kings have been trying to fulfill for some time. Fox scores 16.7 ppg, 4.6 assists per game to go with 4.0 rebounds per game. Sacramento loves Kentucky Wildcats players (see Willie Cauley-Stein and Skal Labissiere).
NBAdraft.net has the Kings taking Duke small forward Jayson Tatum at number five. Tatum is a 6-8 SF that is seen a good wing prospect. Again if Rudy Gay is opting out, the Kings need to replace that talent on the floor. Tatum is a good mid-range scorer who can score from multiple spots on the floor. He is also known as a good defender. By the way, he is also a Duke guy. If Coach K liked him, that is a pretty high recommendation.
And who will be there when the number 10 pick is on the board?
Tankathon.com projects the Kings taking Arizona big man Lauri Markkanen with the number 10 selection they picked up from the Pelicans. He will be 20 years old by the beginning of the season. He is a seven-footer who weighs 225 pounds. Markkanen averaged 15.6 ppg with 7.2 rpg and shot 42.3-percent from beyond the 3-point line. Can you say “stretch four”?
Draft Express says that the Kings will bring the “Zags” Zach Collins to Sacramento with the number 10 pick. The 7-0 foot power forward/center averages 10 points per game to go with 5.9 rebounds per game. Drafting Collins could mean that Koufos could be on the move.
NBAdraft.net has Sacramento going with point guard with the number 10 selection. They see the Kings taking international sensation Frank Ntilikina tenth. This kid is the darling of the Euroleague. He is 6-5 with a seven foot wing span! He is a true point guard with a pass first mentality. The drawback is that he is young – just 18 years old. He is a project. Ntilikina needs to learn how to play at the next level, but everyone says he has a very high basketball IQ. The reality is – he is not NBA ready yet. Well, neither was Skal Labissiere. Some time in Reno took care of that problem.
It’s now a war room problem
Between now and June 22, 2017 there will be multiple scenarios that will be run through the war room in Sacramento about who should be drafted by the Kings. Players will be brought in for tryouts and teams will be calling about possible trades for the draft slots that Kings have available.
What happens in the next 30 days may be the most important decisions that have been made in the history of this franchise in the last 20 years. What decisions are made will most certainly set the direction of the franchise for the next five to seven years. This is high drama if you are a fan of the Sacramento Kings.