The Kings have three real needs as I see it, more low-post play, ball distribution and of course (sigh) defense! We’re not likely to address all three of these items in one draft or off-season (though GP did it once before!) but lets look at those items with the assumption that the Kings get pick #1, #2 or #3 (I can’t get to 4! that would be terrible luck!).
Filling the holes
Following that, lets discuss what the Kings would do with the Houston pick to compliment that initial one, then perhaps the 1st pick in the second round.
Scenario 1: Kings receive Pick #1
I’m saying they go with Blake Griffin, you take the national consensus #1.
Great strength, athleticism and balance, he’s a power player with the need to dominate, to BE a Star, excels at everything a PF is supposed to do well, above the rim scoring and rebounding, dribble drives to the hole with gusto and is a pretty good passer. A Thunderous finisher who has No need to work on big-man basics like strength, he relishes contact and establishes himself in the low-post at will. A cool customer, very calm and collected even in the face of score, missed shots, cheap shots – whatever, Never Panics. A Leader.
If you’re looking for a Batman to all our Robins, he seems to be the guy. Our team, in our current state, with our current tix sales and arena problems need to make a splash, create some excitement in the fan base. I just believe from a business perspective the biggest splash is Blake Griffin. Many casual fans would say ‘Who?!’ (no one here of course) if they took Rubio over Griffin, the Player of the Year.
He needs to work on some things of course, FT shooting (what’s with the tip-toes?! Just start over dude) – but he gets to the line at will. He needs a better mid-range jump shot. Defensive potential is there because of great balance, quickness and excellent footwork but – Did he fail to excel there because he was so important to the offense or because he doesn’t have the same desire on that end? Big question. Remember, this guy is younger than Shawes and already physically dominant.
SUMMARY: Makes perimeter players better because of all the attention he demands in the post, a double team candidate, Rookie of the Year candidate, quickly an All-Star candidate. A Griffin, Shawes and JT rotation seems to make a lot of sense to me balance-wise. They seem to fit. JT rotating back and forth from the 4 to 5 spots sounds very doable, feels right. This would solidify our frontcourt and should take it off the table for years to come. STAR POTENTIAL
Kings Receive Pick #2
I myself have some concerns here and wonder often what GP thinks but if Griffin is the consensus #1 then Ricky is the current consensus #2.
A ball Wizard. A tall PG (6’4”) he has great court vision, outstanding handling skills, very deceptive and creative. Pushes the ball hard, has a few gears he changes to at will, slow to fast AND fast to slow, even in transition and almost from one step to another (a much harder skill) while staying in excellent control, which keeps defenders off balance despite the fact that he’s no speedster.
With very long arms (and he’s already tall) and quick hands, he gets a lot of steals. His ability to see plays developing almost as soon as they begin helps him in zone defense situations immensely where he is very effective.
He has a developing jumper of uncertain quality due to a hand injury this season but drives to the basket very well to score or distribute.
His negatives as I see them are in man to man defense. As mentioned earlier, his zone D is excellent. Does he have the lateral quickness to guard shifty NBA PGs one on one? Will he put on the necessary strength to battle the stronger ones? Historically Euro’s often have an aversion or don’t believe in building strength and muscle. He doesn’t play above the rim despite his size and his jumper has been inconsistent due either to something mechanical or the afore mentioned hand injury. Distance makes the heart grow fonder?
SUMMARY: Very, very young but with a lot of experience, makes other players better. Will he be intimidated playing at the NBA level? Probably not after the Olympics, Star Potential.
Kings Receive Pick #3
Not as sexy a pick as the previous two or perhaps some that others would choose, but he does address two of the teams pressing needs, another post presence and tremendous interior defense.
Two time NCAA defensive player of the year, Co-Big East (the best conference in the nation) Player of the Year. An astonishing interior defender, he blocks shots at a furious pace and alters many many others with his excellent size 7’3”(!), positioning and good footwork. Gets down the court very well for a big (huge) man, rarely goes for pump fakes and only occasionally gets into foul trouble. While contesting every reasonable shot he can, he moves on with patience to the next opportunity when he has no chance. Uses his size to get easy scoring chances on dunks and lay-ups, doesn’t force his offense (also a weakness) and has occasionally shown good form on a 12-15 foot jump-shot (which was rarely used). Gets to the line at a decent rate and although not a very good FT shooter at this point, his technique looks very good and shows promise for the future.
He has improved by big strides in every area of his game in each of his three years in a very difficult conference. This shows that a desire to excel exists for a guy who could have just relied on size alone to get him to the next level. Excellent character. In my opinion would almost immediately (1 yr?) be better than many similarly offensively challenged starting NBA Centers, Dalembert and Chandler come to mind.
His negatives are clear. Doesn’t look for his own offense much, the excellent footwork he displays on defense often disappears on offense, not much if any left hand. Just a few basic go-to post moves he could/should stick with for now would do him wonders on this end. He also fails to establish himself as deep in the post on offense as he does on defense. It’s a tale of two different games.
SUMMARY: Requires teams to change their offensive game planning to adjust to him, turns many opponents into jump shooters, very useful at the NBA level where there is much less time and energy to game-plan. Lack of scoring is more than balanced by points he subtracts on D. Teams won’t run lay-up drills on us with Thabeeeet! guarding the rim. Doesn’t fit into a SHawes/JT rotation as well as Griffin does.
Star Potential unknown, several years to know for sure.
IF GP doesn’t like Thabeet at #3, I could see him trading down to a team that does, the Timberwolves at #5(?) and the Raptors at #9(?), perhaps Charlotte come to mind where he can pick up Ty Lawson, maybe Jennings, Tyreke Evans - or Earl Clark, depending on how much he likes the next group of PGs.
So assuming the #1 pick of Griffin – do they take the best player available at #23 or the best PG available? I’m saying here they take the best player, who, all things being equal happens to be a PG. Lets assume that list consists of in no particular order.
Nick Calathes (Florida)
Strengths: Size, 6’5”. Has many of the qualities admired in Rubio as far as ball handling/passing,.a floor general able to play fast or slow, great vision, excellent rebounder, good shooter, 48%/39% but more a facilitator. Excellent PER of 7.5 asst/40
Weaknesses: Size, 6’5”. Ability to defend quick PGs?, (could guards SGs and play that spot at times)
Eric Maynor (VCU)
Strengths: Excellent floor general, speeeed in several gears, pushes the pace, good shooter, really runs the team. A grown-up, a Winner, I really like this guy.
Weaknesses: a bit weak, not a great defender yet though shows the desire, a bit reckless, (6’2”?)
Patrick Mills (St Marys)
Strengths: Speeed! Blinding speed. A ball thief supreme, shot a question due to a wrist injury most of the year.
Weaknesses: Small, very small (6ft? – but so is CP3), in love with his 3 pt shot, really can’t go to the rim. Doesn’t get to the FT line. Will he get pushed around?
Darren Collison (UCLA)
Strengths: An excellent defender dispite his size, always in control. Solid.
Weaknesses: Not really a scorer, doesn’t finish at the basket due to size, a leader? Role player.
Jrue Holliday (UCLA)
Strengths: Good size, aggressive, ‘Star potential’
Weaknesses: Raw, is he really a PG?, unpolished, aggressive consistently? Likely to go back to UCLA if he kept his grades up and work on his PG skills.
I’m a big fan of Eric Maynor, of that group I think he and Holliday have the best chance of being a Star, with Calathes a Jason Kidd dark horse.
If Thabeet is picked, I don’t think much changes with this pick, it will be one of those guys.
If Ricky Rubio is our 1st (#2) draft pick:
This gets tricky, I’m not in love with any of the bigger guys that might still be available,
1> I’m guessing Patrick Patterson if he’s still available. An undersized PF who does relish finishing at the rim – and is very good at it, a poor mans Blake Griffin, but a hustler.
2>Chase Budinger is really a GP kind of player, a skilled ball handler, a versatile Point-forward, a jack of all trades pretty good at everything. Think Noce with a better handle. Ready to play.
3>and then, Sam Young, a defensive SF/SG specialist, a stopper.
4>Maybe, though I’m not in love with him at all, BJ Mullins if he falls, a big man with talent but very few developed skills.
With the 31st pick
I’m betting GP goes for either Jermaine Taylor http://www.draftexpress.com/profile/Jermaine-Taylor-5670/ or
more probably one of the Euro forwards (he does like the Euros), Casspi http://www.draftexpress.com/profile/Omri-Casspi-538/ is my first guess, (I'd bet beer) a real chance of being a good SF in the NBA, perfect size, shot etc..
or Claver http://www.draftexpress.com/profile/Victor-Claver-336/, A Peja type guy.