The NBA D-League comes to Sacramento for one night only

by Charlie O. Mallonee

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SACRAMENTO–There was a time if you did not make the roster of an NBA team going overseas to play basketball was really a players only real option. Yes, there was the Continental Basketball Association that ultimately gave way to the NBA Development League, but the money was not good and the chances of moving into “the Association” were slim to none.

Now that players are being drafted after just one year of college basketball experience, the need to have player development teams similar to the system baseball uses has become a necessity. Rather than losing control of players to teams in Europe and Asia, NBA teams are establishing a true player development system of their own.

There are currently 22 “D-League” teams and the league will expand to 25 teams next season. It will not be long before every NBA team owns a D-League team of its own. The new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) expands each teams roster from 15 to 17 players next season. There are special pay provisions for players 16 and 17 on the roster depending on whether they on a the team’s D-League roster or NBA roster. A D-League team could have up to five NBA contract players on its roster beginning next year.

The sleepy, little D-League is now a thing of the past. The D-League (which next season will become the NBA Gatorade League) is about to become the most important player development tool the NBA has in its arsenal.

The game on Friday night featured the Reno Bighorns (owned& operated by the Kings) and the Raptors 905 (owned& operated by the Toronto Raptors).

This was my first time to see an NBA D-League game in person

I was interested in seeing several things in this particular game:

  • I was curious to see the level of play and where it fits between college and the NBA game
  • This game also offered a chance to see center Georgios Papagiannis play extended minutes that he does not get with the Kings
  • This match up also provided the chance to see one of the best teams in the D-League. Raptors 905 came into the game with the best winning percentage in the league

By halftime I had some answers

  • The level of play was obviously not NBA-like but it was also a real cut above Division-I basketball. The pace was fast and furious plus they love to shoot the ball from beyond the 3-point arc
  • Papagiannis was very interesting to watch work around basket especially with his soft-touch half-hook shot that can be very effective and almost impossible to stop because of his height and length
  • 905 showed why they win so many games by outscoring the Bighorns 36-16 in the second quarter and took a 57-42 lead into the locker room at halftime

Bighorns made it close in the third but could not hold on in the fourth

The Bighorns behind the play of David Stockton (6 pts, 1 ast) and Kendall Marshall (6 pts, 5 ast) outscored 905 26-20 in the third quarter to cut the Raptors lead to 77-68. It appeared that the momentum had swung over to Reno but things changed rapidly in the final period.

Both teams shot 6-for-20 (30-percent) from the floor in the final period. The difference came in 3-point shooting. 905 converted 3-of-8 from long range while the Bighorns hit only 1-0f-6 shots beyond the arc. The Raptors won the quarter 17-13 and the game 94-81.

Raptors 905 now has a record of 30-9 on the season and 6- 0 versus Western Conference teams. The Bighorns are now 13-25 for the season.

The Wrap

Raptors 905

  • Brady Heslip was the game’s leading scorer with 33 points in 33 minutes on the floor. He hit 8-of-15 shots from beyond the 3-point arc
  • Yanick Moreria and Antwaine Wiggins each added 11 points
  • 905 hit 12-of-31 (38.7-percent) tries from long-range
  • Raptors are now 6-0 this season versus Western Conference teams
  • Their road record improves to 15-2

Bighorns

  • Former King David Stockton was the leading scorer for Reno with 20 points. He also had three assists and three steals
  • Georgios Papagiannis posted 17 points shooting 8-for-19 from the floor. The big man also had six blocked shots in contest
  • Kendall Marshall recorded a double-double with 13 points and 13 assists
  • Isaiah Cousins — who the Kings drafted in the second round — scored 11 points and grabbed seven rebounds. Cousins played his college basketball at Oklahoma with Buddy Hield who just joined the Kings in the DeMarcus Cousins trade with New Orleans

Reno Bighorns win their first game of the season downing Texas 110-108

Charlie O. Mallonee

reno-vs-texas

The Reno Bighorns finally broke into the win column on Tuesday night when they edged the Texas Legends (Dallas Mavericks)  110-108. Malachi Richardson hit a jumper with one-tenth of a second left on the clock to break the tie and give the win to the Bighorns (1-4).

The Bighorns held a four-point lead at the end of three quarters. The Reno lead fluctuated between two to six points as the Legends tried to retake the lead. With 7:58 to go in the game, Texas grabbed that lead and built it up to five points only to have the Bighorns comeback and tie things up with 4:31 to go.

The teams tied the game up three times in the final four minutes. The final tie coming with 16.7-seconds to play when the Legends Bryson Fonville banked in a three-foot jump shot to make it a 108-108 game.

Reno’s Lamar Patterson made a bad pass that was stolen by Fonville. Isaiah Cousins was able to steal the ball back for the Bighorns who called a timeout with 3.8-seconds left in the game and Reno trailing by two points.

The inbound pass went to Malachi Richardson who immediately put up a 21-foot jump shot that went through the hoop with 1-tenth of second remaining in the game which did not leave enough time for the Legends to make a basket.

The Bighorns won the game 110-108.

Bighorn scoring

  • Guard Lamar Patterson was the leading scorer in the game with 27 points. He went 12-for-14 from the free throw line. Patterson also had five steals.
  • Malachi Richardson not only hit the game winning shot – he put up 26 points and was also productive at the charity stripe hitting on 9-of-11 opportunities.
  • Skal Labissiere had a big game at center scoring 21 points in 28 minutes on the floor. He shot 9-for-16 in the game and grabbed eight rebounds.
  • Isaiah Cousins posted a double-double scoring 16 points and pulling in 10 rebounds.
  • Big Georgios Papagiannis – who was sent back to Reno from the Kings – also had a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds.

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Reno’s team numbers

  • Shooting 36-for-81 (44.4-percent)
  • 3-pointers 6-for-18 (33.3-percent)
  • Free Throws 32-for-38 (84.2-percent)
  • 47 rebounds, 16 assists, 11 steals, 3 blocked shots
  • 18 turnovers that resulted in 23 Texas points

Texas numbers

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  • Shooting 39-for-87 (44.8-percent)
  • 3-pointers 8-for-24 (33.3-percent)
  • Free Throws 22-for-28 (78.6-percent)
  • 41 rebounds, 22 assists, 10 steals, five blocked shots
  • 20 turnovers that turned into 16 Reno points

Up next

Everyone in the NBA D-League has Thanksgiving off.

The Bighorns return to play on Friday night in Prescott Valley, Arizona when they visit the Northern Arizona Suns.

The Legends head back to Texas where they will host the Salt Lake City Stars on Saturday night.

The three players on Kings roster are recalled to Sacramento

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Malachi Richardson-the fourth highest scorer in the D-League, Skal Labissiere and Georgios Papagiannis will enjoy their Thanksgiving dinner in Sacramento. All three players have been recalled by the Kings.

Kings head coach Dave Joerger told reporters last Friday in his pregame press conference to expect the players to go back and forth from Reno to Sacramento frequently. He also said that only two of the roster players will be in Reno a majority of the time in order to increase the number of shot opportunities for the players who are with the Bighorns. The Kings also feel it is good for the rookies to be around and practice with the veterans.

There are no option rules in the NBA like in Major League Baseball so players can move between a NBA roster and a NBA D-League roster whenever the parent club wants them to and as many times as the organization feels is appropriate for the players.

Who’s hot in the D-League?

Two of the Top 25 players who are rated most likely to make it to the NBA are on the Reno Bighorns:

  • #7 is Lamar Patterson is averaging 20.6 points and 4.4 assists per game
  • #20 is Isaiah Cousins is averaging 12.6 ppg and 3.6 assists per game
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Isaiah Cousins in the NBA Summer League

Both men are a “Affiliate Players” of the Sacramento Kings assigned to Reno. That means the Kings were able to send Patterson and Cousins to Reno without sending them through the D-League Draft so they can continue to learn the Sacramento style of play. However, both players remain free agents who can sign with any team in the NBA that offers them a contract.

  • Former Kings player Ray McCallum is currently ranked as the number two player most likely to be called up to “the Association”. He is playing for the Pistons D-League entry – the Grand Rapids Drive and is averaging 18.0 points to go with 9.3 assists per game.

NBA D-League: There are eight types of players in pro basketball’s minor league

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by Charlie O. Mallonee

In talking or reading about players in the NBA D-League, you will often come across different designations for players. For example, Lamar Patterson who was the leading scorer for the Reno Bighorns on Sunday is listed as an “affiliate player of the Sacramento Kings”.

What does that mean? There are several categories of player in the D-League, so let’s try to work our way through the basics.

NBA Affiliate Player

As NBA teams waive players in the preseason, they have the first opportunity of signing those players to their D-League affiliate.

Teams can designate up to four “affiliate players”. These player remain free agents in the NBA and those players are free to sign with any of the 30 NBA organizations. The affiliate status allows teams to keep players they like learning their system should the need arise for a player at the NBA level.

Only 22 teams can have affiliate players because not all teams have a dedicated D-League team associated with their organization.

Lamar Patterson and second-round draft pick Isaiah Cousins are affiliate players with the Kings who are playing for the Bighorns.

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Isaiah Cousins Reno Bighorns – Kings Affiliate Player

Returning Players

NBA D-League teams retain the rights to any player who has played for that team within the last two seasons – as long as the team has not released that player.

The Bighorns have two returning players – forward Kadeem Jack and guard Mark Tyndale.

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No. 32 Kadeem Jack Reno Bighorns Photo Credit: NBA

NBA Assignees

NBA organizations can assign players with three years or less service to their D-League affiliate an unlimited number of times. Unlike baseball with the its complicated options rules, NBA can move players up and down as often as they see fit.

For example in 2014-15, 56 different players were assigned to D-League teams a total of 195 times. Because most the development teams are in close proximity to the parent clubs, free movement between the organizations is very feasible.

The Kings have three players assigned to Reno in this designation: forward Skal Labissiere, center Georgios Papagiannis and guard Malachi Richardson.

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Labissiere, Ricardson and Papagiannis Photo credit: NBA.com

NBA Draft Rights Players

These are affectionately known as “domestic draft-and-stash” players. The “draft rights player” rule allows D-League teams to directly acquire players from their NBA parent team’s draft list bypassing the usual D-League player selection processes.

The Oklahoma City Thunder was the first team to use this rule in 2012 when they selected Josh Huestis from Stanford in the first round for the purposes of sending him to the D-League.

Oklahoma City Thunder v Miami Heat
Josh Huestis OKC Thunder Photo Credit: Getty

NBA Draft-Eligible Players

These are players who are eligible but have not entered the NBA Draft. They can instead enter the NBA D-League and keep their NBA Draft status.

If a player signs with the D-League before the season, he is eligible to enter the D-League Draft. If the player signs mid-season, he is available to D-League teams through the wavier pool claiming process.

NBA Draft-Eligible players cannot be called up by NBA teams. This the only category of players in the D-League that has that limitation.

Players who have used  the route to eventually enter the NBA are: P.J. Hairston – who is back in the league with the Vipers, Thanasis Antetokounmpo and Glen Rice,Jr.

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P.J. Hairston Photo Credit: Sergio Hentschel/Getty Images

Local Tryout Players

These are my favorite players. Guys who have not given up the dream and believe if given the chance, they can make it happen. D-League teams can invite up to five players from their open tryouts to join their training camps.

Jonathan Simmons who played college basketball at Houston attended an open tryout for the Austin Spurs in 2013. He was added to the San Antonio Spurs roster in 2015 and is now a major component of their second unit this season.

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Jonathan Simmons Photo Credit: Jack Arent/Getty Images

Other ways to make the D-League

  • D-League Draft: around 200 players are signed by the league in put into a draft pool. Approximately half of these 200 players are selected on Draft Day.
  • Free Agents: there will be an influx of free agents hitting the market for the D-League as winter approaches. Players will be returning to the country from playing overseas and there will be NBA players who been released who are trying to work their way back into the league. These players are selected by the D-League teams on a rotational wavier system.

Information supplied by dleague.nba.com was used in the writing of this article

Reno Bighorns lose season opener to Rio Grande Vipers 112-103

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Kings affiliate player Lamar Patterson

by Charlie O. Mallonee

The Sacramento Kings NBA D-League entry – the Reno Bighorns – opened their 2016-17 season with a 112-103 loss on the road deep in the south of Texas to the Rio Grande Valley Vipers (Houston Rockets) on Sunday night.

The Bighorns started the game very slowly and appeared ready to suffer a blowout as the Vipers shot 50-percent from the floor and outscored Reno 32-13 in the first quarter.

Things improved for the Bighorns in the second quarter as they scored 22 points but the Vipers continued to stay hot as they shot 50-percent again for the period and put up 29 points of their own.

At the half, Rio Grande Valley held a 61-35 lead over the Bighorns.

A different Bighorns team stepped out on the floor to start the third quarter. The Bighorns turned on their defensive intensity and then added improved play on offense to put themselves right back into the game. Led by Malachi Richardson’s and Isaiah Cousins’ eight points each the Bighorns outscored the Vipers 33-17 to close within 10 points of the lead after three quarters of play.

The Vipers came out in the fourth period with the realization that they needed to step up their game or they faced the possibility of losing a contest they once had under their control. Viper forward Isaiah Taylor scored 12 points and dished out five assists to lead the charge as Rio Grande Valley went back up by as many as 16 points. Reno did not lay down in the final quarter. The Bighorns scored 35 points led by Malachi Richardson’s 11 points and Lamar Patterson’s 10. Reno outscored the Vipers 35-34 in the fourth.

When the final buzzer sounded, Rio Grande Valley had defeated Reno 112-103.

Kings fans will recognize the names of the Bighorn players who made a difference

  • Lamar Patterson – signed to Reno as an affiliate player to the Sacramento Kings- was the Bighorns leading scorer with 23 points, eight rebounds and seven assists. Patterson was an impressive 9-for-18 from the field. He played 32 minutes.
  • Malachi Richardson – who came to the Kings from Charlotte in exchange for Marco Belinelli – added 22 points. He went 4-for-12 from the floor including hitting on 3-of-6 from 3-point range. Richardson also went 11-for-16 from the free throw line. He played 38 minutes.
  • Other former Kings roster players who had an impact were center Georgios Papagiannis who scored 15 points in 29 minutes on the floor. Second-round draft pick and affiliate player Isaiah Cousins scored 14 points. Forward Skal Labissiere put up 9 points and grabbed 11 points in his 31 minutes of playing time.
  • Chane Behanan – who played in Mexico last season and for Rio Grande Valley the year before that – added eight points in 13 minutes of playing time

Rio Grande Valley Vipers

  • The Vipers scoring was led by forward Isaiah Taylor who is an affiliate player of the Houston Rockets. He scored 24 points and hit four 3-pointers. Taylor distributed seven assists in his 31 minutes on the floor.
  • Three other Viper player players scored in double figures: Kyle Wiltjer (22), PJ Hairston – who has played in the NBA – added 15 points and Le’Bryan Nash scored 21 off the bench.
  • The Vipers outscored the Bighorns 60-44 in the paint

What’s coming up for the Bighorns

The Bighorns travel to Austin where they will play two games with the Austin Spurs. They will play a game on Tuesday at 9:00 AM PST and on Thursday at 5:30 PM PST. The Bighorns will then head home for their home opener on Saturday, November 19 with the Oklahoma City Blue.

Kings sign guard Jordan Farmar

by Charlie O. Mallonee

Free Agent Point Guard Returns to Kings

The Sacramento Kings announced today that they have signed free agent guard Jordan Farmar. The announcement was made by Kings vice president of basketball operations and general manager Vlade Divac.

Farmar was with the Kings in the  preseason looking to fill one of the open spots on the roster. He averaged 6.5 points, 1.8 rebounds and 2.8 assists per contest in the 4 games he played in for Sacramento. Farmar scored 14 points and had five assists against the Lakers in a preseason game on October 13th.

The Kings waived Farmar along with rookie point guard Isaiah Cousins on October 24th.

Farmar was in Memphis with Joerger Last Season

Farmar joined Dave Joerger’s squad in Memphis late in the regular season in 2016. He started 10 regular season games and then started four playoff games for the Grizzlies.

Farmar is a nine-year veteran of the NBA. He has played for the Lakers, Net, Clippers, Grizzlies and now the Kings. Farmar played his college basketball at UCLA.

No Roster Move Required

Darren Collison – who is serving his eight-game suspension for a domestic incident – has been moved to a suspended list. That leaves an opening on the roster that Kings are filling with Farmar.

Collison Due Back Next Tuesday

Darren Collison will be eligible to play beginning next Tuesday, November 8th when the Kings host the New Orleans Pelicans at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento. The Kings will have to make a roster move prior to the start of that game in order to meet the 15-man maximum roster limit.

Kings Play Thursday Night

The Kings play game three of their five game road trip Thursday night in Orlando. With Farmar signing today, it is reasonable to expect he will be in uniform tomorrow night to face the Magic.

Ty Lawson misses the plane and now may miss a roster spot

 

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by Charlie O. Mallonee

Kings guard Ty Lawson did not play in the game on Saturday night in Kentucky against the Washington Wizards. His reason for not playing was listed as “personal reasons” not “coach’s decision”.

It turns out that the personal reason was Lawson had missed the plane in Las Vegas and he never made it to Lexington. This came on the heels of him being late to practice on Thursday. This story was first reported by Marc Stein of ESPN.

Trouble has followed Lawson in recent times. He has been arrested four times for driving under the influence including two arrests in 2015. Lawson did not last the full season with the Houston Rockets who released him in March. Rumor had him headed to Sacramento then but Lawson ultimately finished the season with the Indiana Pacers.

Lawson’s past is what made him available when the Kings went looking for help while Darren Collison served his suspension for the domestic assault incident. At the time Sacramento signed Lawson, they did not know how many games they would be without Collison which they now know is eight games. Many people felt Collison was facing a suspension of 25-plus games.

Lawson was signed to a one-year, non-guaranteed contract in hopes that Lawson would put his past behind him and return to being the player he was in Denver when he was star for the Nuggets. Kings head coach Dave Joerger has been full of praise for Lawson especially for his speed going north to south on the floor.

The Kings will meet with Lawson and decide what his future will be with the team. The team did sign veteran point guard Jordan Farmar as a potential fill in for Collison. Farmar played for Joerger in Memphis last season. The Kings also have rookie Isaiah Cousins who they drafted in the second-round and has a partially guaranteed contract.

The Kings will probably keep one veteran point guard to run the second unit and if they are happy with Cousins, keep him on the roster and shuttle him between Sacramento and the D-League team in Reno. Who plays and who is not present at the final preseason game on Tuesday night versus the Los Angeles Clippers may answer some of the questions that now exist because of Lawson’s situation.

Kings: the search for a starting point guard

 

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Seth Curry runs the offense for the Kings

By Charlie O. Mallonee

Now that the draft is over, the Kings have started the search for their bench players. The real search is for who is going to play point guard and who can help the team at shooting guard.

The point guard situation has become clouded because of the situation with Darren Collison. Unfortunately, Collison has been indicted in a domestic violence case and will almost certainly face a suspension from the NBA related to the situation. When Collison will be available to play for the Kings is a major unknown at this point.

Last season’s starting point guard – Rajon Rondo – is a free agent and had a very productive year for Sacramento. The consensus is that Rondo would be open to signing another short-term contact of one to two years to stay in with the Kings. Sacramento does not have “Bird Rights” on Rondo so his salary would have to come out of this year’s cap money.

The big question is – do you want Rondo at the point again this season? There is no doubt that Rondo can produce assists and is capable of scoring in spurts. There is also no question that he will not provide the team with the type of defense the Kings are looking to establish this season.

Rondo has also become a target of the Brooklyn Nets who are looking to replace Jarrett Jack. There have to be other teams who are looking at what Rondo did last season and are thinking that he would be worth offering a big dollar-short term contract for that type of potential production for a season or two.

Who does that leave for the Kings to target for the point guard position? Ricky Rubio of the Timberwolves appears to have become expendable with Minnesota drafting Kris Dunn. Rubio averages 10.1 points and 8.3 assists per game. A trade would be necessary to bring Rubio to Sacramento. The Kings do have Kosta Koufos and Ben McLemore that could be packaged in a possible exchange. The key worry involving Rubio would be his history of injuries.

Jeremy Lin is an unrestricted free agent who spent last season in Charlotte. He averaged 11.7 points and 3.0 assists per game. Lin made $2-million last season but he will want a raise this year and some security. UPDATE: Lin signed a three-year, $36-million deal with the Brooklyn Nets. That is a $10-million a year raise over his last contract. The Lin signing also potentially affects the Rajon Rondo situation.

Ty Lawson has experience and has been a major disappointment in his last two stops in Houston and Indiana. He also earned over $12-million last season.

Mario Chalmers played for Joerger in Memphis averaging 10.3 points and 3.8 assists per game but then was waived by the club. He made just over $4-million last year.

Ish Smith has become a legitimate starter in the league for the Sixers. He averaged 12.6 points and 6.5 assists per game. Smith will certainly want a raise from his $1.1-million salary. Also is he willing to go from one bad team to another just for the money? UPDATE: Smith signed a three-year,$18-million contract with the Detroit Pistons on Friday.

The best option for the Kings may be to re-sign Seth Curry, the combo point/shooting guard who came on strong for the team in closing days of last season. The team has given Curry – a restricted free agent – a qualifying offer so they have the opportunity to match or exceed any offer Curry would receive from another team.

This would mean the Kings would have to start the season with Curry and rookie Isaiah Cousins while they wait for the Collison situation to play itself out. It would allow the Kings to spend money on shooting guards that they so desperately need plus one of those shooting guards might be able to play some limited time at the point.

The Kings may well need to embrace “positionless” basketball to compensate for the lack of a star point guard. Former head coach George Karl said the best passer on the Kings is DeMarcus Cousins. Maybe the offense will need to flow through the high post until the point guard situation can be firmed up.

The worst thing the Kings could do right now is make a knee-jerk decision and spend too much on a player that they might not need later in the season or in seasons to come.

 

 

Wrapping up the Kings 2016 draft

 

Boogie Photo with tweetBy Charlie O. Mallonee

Sacramento – This is going to be a vain attempt to wrap up the 2016 NBA Draft for the Sacramento Kings. The one thing we have come to expect from the Kings ownership and management is lots of surprises. They did not disappoint on Thursday night. What looked like a simple two pick night turned into a four selection event that has had the basketball world talking all day and not necessarily in a good way.

Pick Number 59

The Kings had the next to last pick in the draft. With that selection, they chose guard Isaiah Cousins (no relation to DeMarcus) of the Oklahoma Sooners. Cousins is a four-year player who helped his Sooner team make it to the Final Four of the 2016 NCAA Tournament. He showed his versatility moving from shooting guard to point guard as a senior.

As a senior at Oklahoma, Cousins averaged 12.6 points, 4.5 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game. He shot 40.8-percent from the floor and 41.1-percent from beyond the 3-point arc. Cousins averaged 1.4 steals per game.

At 6-foot-5 and 191 pounds, Cousins has excellent size for a point guard. Scouts say he knows how to use his size to create scoring opportunities for himself and his teammates. He is used to pushing the ball from running the up tempo Oklahoma offense. Cousins needs to improve his shot selection decisions and reduce his tendency to over penetrate the lane. He also needs to improve his free throw shooting.

Draft analysts like this selection by the Kings because it definitely fills a need. With Rondo’s status up in the air and Collison’s immediate future under the control of the courts, the Kings need point guards. If Cousins plays well in the Summer League, he has an excellent chance of winding up with a guaranteed contract.

Kings fans also remember a point guard named Isaiah that Sacramento drafted with the 60th pick that worked out pretty well. Unfortunately, Isaiah Thomas is now in Boston but he was an All-star last season.

Remember the name Bogdan Bogdanovic

One of the reasons the Kings made the trade for the eighth pick in draft with the Phoenix Suns was Bogdan Bogdanovic. In return, the Kings received the number 13 and 28 picks in the draft and the signing rights to Bogdanovic who the Suns drafted with the 27th selection in 2014.

Bogdanovic is from Serbia and plays basketball professionally in Turkey. The 6-foot-6 shooting guard had just informed the Suns that he would not be signing with them for the 2016-17 season. By waiting one more season, Bogdanovic will not be subject to the rookie salary limitations of the NBA. With his skill and experience, he may well be able to negotiate a “max” contract for a player of 0-6 years of experience.

For the Kings, Bogdanovic represents their 2017 first-round draft pick. Sacramento is still subject to losing their first-round selection to the Chicago Bulls in 2017 unless it is pick 1-10. Of course, the Kings are hoping to be playoff team and not a lottery pick team next season, so they had to make plans that would protect them should they not have a first-round selection next year. The rights to Bogdanovic is that protection.

“We got the rights to one of the best European players in Eastern Europe that Phoenix drafted a couple of years ago. Next year we are probably not going to have a pick because it is 1 to 10 protected by Chicago so I tried to think about next year too,” said Kings vice-president of operations/general manager Vlade Divac. “He’s definitely one of the best European player.”

Reactions to the Picks

Some analysts have been very critical of the Kings trading the eighth pick to Phoenix and passing on power forward Marquese Chriss. Chriss had been projected to go as high as third fell to number eight. The Kings do need help at the four spot but Chriss is a project that may be three to four years away from being a real impact player. At this point in time, the Kings are not a very patient team.

Georgios Papagiannis Round 1 Pick 13

The reaction to this pick has been harsh. Most of the criticism has centered on taking Papagiannis with the number 13 pick. Many of the analysts believe that the big man would have been available later in the draft which would have allowed the Kings to have addressed more pressing needs with this selection.

There have also been questions as to why draft another classic center which is exactly what Papagiannis is as a player. The Kings already have DeMarcus Cousins, Willie Cauley-Stein and Kosta Koufos who play center.

This reporter is going to suggest that this is a selection for next year and beyond. DeMarcus Cousins will be a King for the 2016-17 season. Will he be with the Kings in after next season? Probably not. It will be the final year of his contract and the chances of him resigning in Sacramento are really “slim to none”. The Kings cannot afford to let their most valuable asset just walk away. A trade on or just before draft day next year is a very real possibility. At that point, the Kings may need a 7-foot-2 center who can fill the lane.

Malachi Richardson Round 1 Pick 22

This is the pick that does not yet officially exist. The Kings will trade guard Marco Belinelli to the Charlotte Hornets in exchange for the number 22 pick Malachi Richardson. Richardson is a shooting guard out of Syracuse with good size who is an aggressive offensive player. The trade cannot become official until July 1st.

Reaction to the selection of Richardson has been very positive. Most analyst see him as being exactly the type of player the Kings have looking for at shooting guard. He is a good athlete who can score points in bunches. Richardson can also shoot the 3-pointer.

Skal Labissiere Round 1 Pick 28

The University of Kentucky connection continues. Labissiere is a “one and done” Wildcat that drew the attention of scouts from the beginning of the college basketball season last fall. Before we continue, no this selection was not part of a ploy to bring John Calipari to Sacramento. Please put that conspiracy to bed.

At one point, Labissiere was seen a lottery pick by many draft watchers. His troubles adjusting to the college game and the tough coaching style of John Calipari caused his stock to begin to drop. Labissiere’s inability to stay out of foul trouble on the defensive end also raised some red flags for many player personnel people.

Even with those difficulties, Labissiere is an intriguing prospect because of the natural talent he possesses. He did not play organized basketball until coming to the United States following the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. In many ways, he is still learning the game. Labissiere is a project but to be fair most first-round picks in the NBA Draft are projects at this point.

Labissiere is quick and athletic for a big man. He can run the floor like a guard (think Willie Cauley-Stein). Even though he did not show it much at Kentucky, Labissiere has a nice touch shooting the 3-pointer. For the reason, look for him to be used as a power forward/stretch four in the Kings line up.

“We were really surprised that Skal fell to 28th and that talent you couldn’t pass,” explained Vlade Divac.

What is to come

At the conclusion of the draft, Vlade Divac expressed that there is a lot of work left to do for the Kings. “This just the first step. Like I said, free agency is coming. We have summer league. We have two or three months before we assemble our team.