That giving Udrih the full 5-year, MLE was a mistake has been unanimously established not only in this community but by the Kings’ front office when they allegedly attempted to move the Slovenian guard prior to last month’s trade deadline. It has already been discussed ad nauseaum that Udrih’s statistics are comparable to last season’s when he was dubbed as a revelation for his salary at the time. It was hoped that with a new contract and stability Udrih could improve on last year’s performance but it simply hasn’t taken place. In February he displayed flashes of being a serviceable NBA point – though still not enough to demonstrate that he could yet be an integral piece of a contending franchise. An 8th or 9th man? Perhaps. A starter? No.
That said, it will likely remain difficult for Petrie to include Beno in a transaction in the near future. With Martin securing the off-guard and Petrie having addressed the front-court via Hawes, Thompson, Greene and Nocioni – point guard is noticeably the next position of issue. So heading into the offseason, how will the Kings move forward?
With currently the worst record in the league the Kings have the best chance at the first selection in June’s draft. If that were to occur the general consensus is that they would still select Blake Griffin over Ricky Rubio, Greg Monroe, Hasheem Thabeet, and others currently projected as top-five picks. As hard as it would be to see a terrific point guard prospect like Rubio to be passed on, it is still uncertain whether he will enter this year’s draft - besides, selecting Griffin isn’t exactly a consolation, but more a cause for enormous celebration. I’m honestly not in a position to be making comparisons of his game but these are the names most commonly associated with him: Barkley, Boozer, Stoudemire, Kemp (pre-cheeseburgers/cocaine) and McDyess (pre-injury). The NCAA tournament should really have Kings fans salivating over this guy.
So assuming that the Kings are unable to address the point guard position with their lottery pick, the next option is the pick received from Houston in the Artest deal. As of today (3/11/09) that pick would be the 25th come June. It will likely end up somewhere between 22 and 27. Section 214 has previously outlined some of the players that will probably be available in the vicinity. That certainly doesn’t include the likes of Jeff Teague, Brandon Jennings and Stephen Curry. It is also probably too late to nab Tyreke Evans or Ty Lawson. However, here are some of the potential point guard candidates in the late-1st round:
You can find information on each of these players and follow several of them in the NCAA Tournament. However, I want to focus momentarily on Jonny Flynn. There have been comparisons made of late to Earl Watson. Personally, I wonder if he’s Aaron Brooks revisited. Look at Brooks’ final year at Oregon: 17.7 ppg, 46 fg%, 4.3 apg, 1.4 stl. Now, look at Flynn this season to date: 17.3 ppg, 45.6 fg%, 6.4 apg, 1.5 spg. Brooks was a better three point shooter at the end of his college career – but Flynn is only a sophomore. Flynn is also playing in arguably the toughest conference (Big East) and is a former teammate of Donté Greene. I also find the Flynn-Brooks comparison interesting after knowing how much Geoff Petrie was intrigued by Brooks in the past, and how Brooks is flourishing in Adelman’s system now that Rafer Alston has been traded to Orlando.
Since the Kings will also have a 2nd round pick soon thereafter, potentially as high #31, they might also draft a point guard there. Some of the guards listed above could still be available at that juncture. But what is the likelihood that Petrie will be able to find a replacement for Udrih in this draft, especially with picks this low? Here’s a list of some current NBA point guards drafted 20th or below in the past few years:
2008 – George Hill (#26 – San Antonio); Mario Chalmers (#34 – Miami); Goran Dragic (#45 – Phoenix)
2007 – Aaron Brooks (#26 – Houston); Ramon Sessions (#56 – Milwaukee)
2006 – Rajon Rondo (#21 – Phoenix); Jordan Farmar (#26 – Los Angeles); Daniel Gibson (#42 – Cleveland)
2005 – Nate Robinson (#21 – Phoenix); Jarrett Jack (#22 – Denver); Monta Ellis (#40 – Golden State)
2004 – Delonte West (#24 – Boston); Beno Udrih (#28 – San Antonio); Chris Duhon (#38 – Chicago)
2003 – Leandro Barbosa (#28 – San Antonio); Steve Blake (#38 – Washington)
Of course, not all of the above mentioned names are exactly studs – but it sure wouldn’t be too horrible to find someone like Brooks, after having drafted Griffin. One could make an argument for a Maynor or Flynn having every bit as much upside as a Boobie Gibson or a Beno Udrih.
In all, it would be truly remarkable for Petrie to not draft a point guard in this draft. If they go big early in the draft there is still too big a need at the position to not address it – unless, for whatever reason, Petrie decides that none of the guards are worthy of being selected over someone like Jerome Jordan or Patrick Patterson. In that case there should be sufficient space beneath the cap for the Kings to resign a Will Solomon or possibly a free agent like Marcus Williams (just released by Golden State). However, free agency is not going to be the way the Kings rebuild the point guard position. Hopefully they’ve already learned that lesson – to not overspend on mediocrity when mediocrity is all that you can afford in terms of free agents (See Udrih, Beno).
As a footnote, I apologize for having been nothing more than a page "lurker" for the past while. I assure you that my passion for all-things Kings has not diminished despite my lack of commentary here and that it has nothing to do with the team’s record. On the contrary, I am optimistic about the team’s direction and even the slightest possibility of a new venue to watch our favorite team. Go Kings!!!