NBA Mock Draft: Tyler Zeller To The Kings Picks Up Steam

GREENSBORO, NC - MARCH 18: Tyler Zeller #44 of the North Carolina Tar Heels shoots over Ethan Wragge #34 of the Creighton Bluejays in the second half during the third round of the 2012 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Greensboro Coliseum on March 18, 2012 in Greensboro, North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

Welp. This is how it all ends, my friends. From Sam Amick at SI.com, who has the Sacramento Kings picking up Bradley Beal at No. 5 in his latest 2012 NBA Mock Draft, but begins with this note:

This space was initially reserved for North Carolina center Tyler Zeller, in part because he's the kind of proven, reliable talent that the Kings appear to be homing in on but also because I have reason to believe they like him quite a bit as a possible frontcourt partner to franchise centerpiece DeMarcus Cousins.

Sam goes on to note that drafting Beal, if he's available, would likely force Geoff Petrie to shuffle the backcourt, possibly trading Tyreke Evans or Marcus Thornton. Beal is a true blue two-guard, just like Thornton; there's some flexibility in where to play Evans, though it appears he'll most likely be most effective long-term as a two. Obviously, you can't have three of your top five players (with DeMarcus Cousins and Isaiah Thomas) playing the same position for too long. It wouldn't be time for a panic trade, but eventually you'd have to do something.

Zeller would seem like an immediate third or fourth big man, especially if the Kings are as serious about keeping Jason Thompson as everyone believes they are. (I'm not terribly convinced; I think they were much more serious about Thornton than they are about Thompson, but that's just the sense I get.) Zeller's short-term impact, with is supposed to be his strength as a prospect due to his age and comfort, wholly depends on whether JT is retained and how Chuck Hayes bounces back. Again as always: a strong small forward would have an immediate opportunity. A big man or guard has a bigger challenge to get on the court early. Keep that in mind when you hear the "readiness" argument.

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