by Charlie O. Mallonee
The NBA Draft Lottery order was selected in Chicago on Tuesday night, and the big winners of the night were the Sacramento Kings. The Kings entered the evening slotted to pick seventh on draft night in June. The Kings finished the season tied with the Chicago Bulls but lost a coin toss so the Bulls owned the sixth selection pre-lottery draw.
The Kings had just an 18.3-percent chance of winding up in the Top-3 in the Draft Lottery. Those odds may have been helped a little because the team was represented by first-year point guard De’Aaron Fox who has been a positive force for Sacramento ever since his arrival in June of 2017 from the University of Kentucky.
The Kings moved into the Top-3 in the 2017 Draft Lottery back fell back to the number five pick because Philadelphia had the right to swap selections if the Sacramento pick was higher than the Sixers. With the number five selection, the Kings took De’Aaron Fox.
This good fortune becomes even more important because the Kings will not have a first-round pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. The 2019 first-round selection was dealt away early in the tenure of Vlade Divac’s administration of basketball operations. This makes the 2018 draft selection even more important than it would normally be because it has to count for two seasons.
Who will be the number two draft pick?
Virtually every mock draft site has Luka Doncic going as the number two selection in the 2018 NBA Draft. He is an international player currently playing with Real Madrid of Spain originally from Slovenia. Doncic is a 6-foot-7 small forward/shooting guard who is capable of playing positionless basketball that has become so popular in the NBA today.
Doncic is just 19-years old and definitely plays older than his years. He is an outstanding assists player who also is a strong rebounder on offense and defense. Doncic is an above average scorer and shooter at the free throw line. He needs work on his three-point shooting percentage and his number of turnovers needs to be lower.
The Kings front office has two prominent members – Vlade Divac and Peja Stojakovic – who are Eastern Europeans and should be able to make Doncic feel comfortable in Sacramento. One of the Kings up and coming stars is former Euro star – Bogdan Bogdanovic – who certainly understands the style of basketball Doncic has been playing and could help make the transition to the NBA.
It looks like a match made in heaven right? Well, wait just one minute. The Phoenix Suns believe that Doncic can play point guard in the NBA. That’s right. They think this 6-foot-7 budding superstar can play point guard in “the association” alongside their star shooting guard Devin Booker. If the Suns believe Doncic can play that role, he could become the number one pick in the 2018 NBA Draft.
If Doncic goes number one, who goes number two?
That would leave DeAndre Ayton from Arizona available for the number two pick. Ayton is a 7-foot-1, 250-pound center who has an NBA body. He scores in multiple ways and has even been developing a three-point shot. Ayton runs the floor well and is not afraid of contact. He has great hands and good footwork.
His weakness is his defense. Ayton tends to get caught flat-footed too many times. He needs to do a better job defending against the pick and roll – a staple of the NBA. He needs to be more consistent about contesting shots.
Ayton is going to be a star in the NBA.
The Suns are going to be under immense pressure to draft the Arizona product and keep him in Phoenix. However, the Suns may opt to pass and go with Doncic who may pay off with more long-term results for them.
Either way, the Kings cannot go wrong. They are going to be able to draft a player who is going to become a star in the NBA.