This is the first in a three part series in which I analyze the 2012 NBA Draft by position. As a source I used DraftExpress's mock draft and for statistics I used both DraftExpress and Sports-Reference. All statistics used are for the prior college basketball season. Because of the lack of advanced statistic information, difference in playstyle and the dearth of quality foreign players in this year's draft, I have only included NCAA players in this analysis. For information such as player position, school, height, etc. please click on the player's name and it will take you to their DraftExpress page with all that information.
The draft has been both a boon and a curse to Kings fans over the years. Despite their poor records over the last few years, Sacramento has routinely fallen down in the draft. For the most part though, the Kings have still managed to find some quality players regardless of where they have drafted. Considering the lack of Free Agent options available to the Kings and their stingy owners, the draft is the most surefire way to improve the team.
Currently, the Kings have a lot of potential in their backcourt. Their four main rotation players there are all young and still have upside while also demonstrating NBA worthy talent at times. Last year had the Kings draft two guards in Jimmer Fredette (10th) and Isaiah Thomas (60th). While Jimmer Fredette struggled at times (okay, most of the time), Isaiah Thomas blossomed and eventually became the Kings starting Point Guard. Because of Thomas' emergence and the lack of good quality wing options on the team, the Kings resorted to playing a lot of three guard lineups with Marcus Thornton at the two and Tyreke Evans at the three.
At first glance it might look like the Kings don't need to draft another guard considering the depth they already have at the position. Still, a team that has done as poorly as the Kings the last few years can't afford to overlook talent for need, and there are definitely some good guard talents in this draft, if not the smorgasbord of the last few years.
At the top of the draft there is only one real guard standout in a very big-heavy lottery and that is Bradley Beal. Beal is a very versatile guard who can do a bit of everything. He was the clear star of his Florida team and the focus of opposing defenses. In High School, Beal was a standout shooter, something that he struggled with a bit in college, as evidenced by the poor 3P%. Beal is also an excellent rebounder for his position, far outstripping his peers in that regard. Still, Beal is primarily a scorer, and he doesn't possess elite athleticism or size for defensive purposes. He reminds me a lot of a guard the Kings already have in Marcus Thornton.
A lot of the guards on this list, like Beal, are primarily scorers. None was more prolific than Damian Lillard out of Weber State. Lillard was the best scorer in college basketball last year and had the second highest PER to Anthony Davis. Lillard was not just a volume scorer either as he was incredibly efficient from the field, and also played the role of playmaker on his team as well. In my personal opinion, Lillard should be a bit higher on team's boards, but again would fit badly on a Kings team that is already chock full of scorers.
What the Kings are truly lacking at in the backcourt is someone who can play the role of a primary distributor and doesn't need to score the ball to be useful. For the purposes of the draft there are two guards who fill that role: Kendall Marshall and Scott Machado. Marshall is the greater overall talent, running the offense for a very good North Carolina team and nearly averaging double digit assists in the process, a rare feat for a college player. While Marshall is a very good passer, he also is very turnover prone, with a very high turnover percentage. Considering how often he looks for the pass, that's not too surprising, but it's still very high. Marshall doesn't look for his offense much at all, averaging just 4.1 field goal attempts in 33 minutes a game this past season, but that's him deferring to all the scorers North Carolina did have.
The other playmaker in the draft is Scott Machado of Iona, and he should be available in the second round whenever the Kings pick. Machado also averaged nearly 10 assists and on a much less talented team with a lower turnover rate as well. Machado was also able to score 13.6 points a game with good efficiency, showing he can contribute there as well.
Sacramento could also use some better three point shooting, something they really lacked throughout the year. Doron Lamb fits the bill there as one of the purest shooters in the draft and he could also be available when the Kings pick in the second round. Lamb connected on almost 47% of his three point attempts this past season. John Jenkins is another great shooter and posted the highest efficiency of any of the prospective guards.
There are a few guards that I feel entered the draft too early, namely Austin Rivers and Marquis Teague. Both are primarily scoring guards and not great scorers at that. For one, both players were exceedingly inefficient, something the Kings do not need. Teague is the better playmaker but he's not great there by any means. Both players kind of remind me of Jerryd Bayless and I think they'll both struggle early on in their careers unless they land in the right situation.
Still, unless the Kings make a drastic trade involving Tyreke Evans or Marcus Thornton, I have a hard time seeing them use their lottery pick on a guard. The second round pick on the other hand is up for grabs and I think someone like Machado would be a great get there, giving the Kings a different look they can try at times, someone to set up all the scorers that they have and run the second unit. I doubt Lamb will be available in the second round, and besides, Jimmer is probably supposed to develop into that bench scorer.