Well, we're wrapping up yet another season filled with uncertainties about the future of basketball in our region, and once again the season was also filled with plenty of losses. Whether or not we finish 29-53 or 28-54 seems irrelevant, and quite honestly it is for us fans. But the last round of games this season provides us something to watch out for. In Jason Patt's piece detailing the seeding situation throughout the league, he explains where the Kings stand in the
playoff hunt lottery.
The New Orleans Hornets currently are one game worse than the Kings for the fifth-worst record. They can clinch it if the Hornets lose to the Dallas Mavericks. If the Hornets win and the Kings lose to the Clippers, it would go to a coin flip.
If the Kings beat the Clippers, the Wizards lose to the Bulls and the Detroit Pistons lose to the Brooklyn Nets, there would be a three-way tie for the sixth-worst record. There would then be multiple coin flips to determine who gets the odds advantages as well as the tiebreakers for draft order outside the top-three picks. If the Kings win and one of the Wizards and Pistons lose, Sacramento and the loser would flip a coin. If the Kings lose and the Hornets lose, Sacramento would finish with the sixth-worst record.
To sum it up, depending on how we perform today we shall be sitting somewhere between the fifth and eighth worst record. Quite honestly, I don't give a damn whether we win today or not. The Clippers can have this one if they want. Unless Tyreke shows some sort of Jordanesque display of skill, we're not going to feel a big impact with a win tonight. But if we lose, we could vault from eighth to fifth pick in the draft.
I'm no proponent of tanking, most of the time. I think a team should work its hardest to win, but if we could take a long look at our role players and give them extended minutes versus playing the pieces that brought us to the sixth worst record in the league, why not utilize the opportunity of a game where winning does nothing but harm your lottery chances? If we win, its because our role players played a great game and came together with some semblance of chemistry we've struggled with for years, if we lose, the coaching staff can evaluate the players who did or did not perform well. I know one game isn't enough to make a big judgment, but that's why I think we should have started doing this at least a week ago. Smart is simply trying to prepare himself for his next assistant coaching role, methinks. 30 wins looks better than 28, or whatever.
So, this draft is terrible amiright? Well, that's no reason to squander a small-market's best chance at acquiring game-changing talent. I refuse to dismiss any draft class for as long as the Kings are terrible. So, taking into account our draft position anywhere between 5th and 8th, I will be looking at a few prospects who will surely bring glory to the SACRAMENTO Kings (and not to any other city).
Shabazz Muhammad F, UCLA (PROJECTED BETWEEN 6th & 10th)
Scouting Profile: Muhammad is a scorer. He is simply a hungry, aggressive offensive player who will constantly look to put pressure on the opposing defense. On defense; however, he is rather pedestrian and seems to check out. Muhammad put up 22 points per-40 minutes in college as a freshman which puts him third among his class and 16th in the nation.
What surprises me about Muhammad, is that he rarely scores in isolation or in pick and roll scenarios in half court sets. Only 6% of his offensive contribution comes from these set plays, and the majority of his scoring is done by leaking on in transition, and moving off the ball to get into good position. In addition, his offensive rebounding at 6'6 is second in the nation at his position, only trailing Victor Oladipo. He uses his elite athleticism in order to overpower other players in the post, and was sent to the free-throw line 7 times per-40.
About his recent age-issue and recurring character issues that people are worked up about? I cannot judge, to be honest. He may have dominated in high school based off of his age, but when he got to college he remained aggressive and still scored with the best in the nation, even after a rocky start in UCLA.
17.9 ppg, 5.2 rpg, .8 apg, 44.3% FG, 1.6 TO
Overall Impression: Muhammad seems one-dimensional, and that bothers me. I don't think he is a very good fit for this team, simply because this team is comprised of scorers almost entirely, now. With him, we'd need two balls on the court just to keep everybody happy. The good thing about Shabazz is that he does not need the ball in order to score as much as our other guys. I think its great that he works for position on the court, and THEN demands the ball, instead of flying into a horde of defenders, risking our possessions (ahem current Kings roster.). If we pick Muhammad, I'll be uneasy until October, but for some reason I feel like he wouldn't be the worst pick here.
NBA Comparison: A rich man's Nick Young.
Schneezel Happiness Score if Drafted: 3/10.
Trey Burke G, Michigan (PROJECTED BETWEEN 4th & 7th)
Scouting Profile: I'm not calling Trey Burke a sure thing, but just look at his stats in comparison to the league's elite guards in college.
Player One: 15.3 ppg, 6.6 apg, 4.5 rpg, 2.4 spg, 47.4% FG, 47.4% 3PT% 83.4% FT.
Player Two: 18.6 ppg, 6.7 apg, 3.2 rpg, 1.3 spg, 46.3% FG, 38.4% 3PT% 80.1% FT
Player Three: 12.5 ppg, 6.8 apg, 3.6 rpg, 1.0 spg, 43.3% FG, 36.4% 3PT% 67.7% FT
The thing that that strikes me is player one has a much better game on the perimeter on both sides of the court. Shooting ten percent better from the three, and grabbing an extra steal a game, player one has a much more refined game in the open court. Player two, on the other hand has more assists and scores more, with a marginal difference in field goal percentage. He seems to play to his strengths when scoring, and avoids shooting on the perimeter like player one. Player three has the best assist rate, but otherwise is smoked by the two above him. Player three is Deron Williams, player one is Chris Paul, and Trey is player two. Sort of surprising for me, how he looks when compared to these guys.
Overall Impression: Burke led the nation's #1 offense all year, and is a very good pick and roll player. I like him quite a bit, and he seems to be quite the leader in the locker room. I came away pretty impressed with him in the title game, even if his team did lose. He may be undersized at 6'0, but its not as if we can be too discriminating based on height. I know we have Isaiah Thomas (but for how long?), but drafting Burke would be a good decision for just about any franchise outside Cleveland.
NBA Comparison: Kemba Walker
Schneezel Happiness Score if Drafted: 8/10
Victor Oladipo G, Indiana (PROJECTED BETWEEN 5th & 8th)
Scouting Profile: Great athlete that plays tough at his position. He plays gritty, and fights for rebounds. He doesn't seem to be an offensive force, which makes it tough to rationalize using a top 8 pick on him, but if our new ownership decides to cut ties with Evans, Oladipo might be the defensive stalwart this team needs.
13.6 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 2.1 apg, 2.2 spg, 59.9% FG, 44.1% 3PT, 74.6% FT
Overall Impression: If we determine that Evans isn't in our future plans, Oladipo is a great pick. According to Draft Express, he has a low basketball IQ, but I notice how efficiently he shoots, despite being raw on offense. That shows that he is at least patient, and will not demand a ton of shots from a shooter-heavy lineup. Has a ton of defensive upside, but fouls a lot for a guard (2.5 fpg).
NBA Comparison: A rich man's Tony Allen
Schneezel Happiness Score if Drafted: 6/10.
Michael Carter Williams G, Syracuse (PROJECTED BETWEEN 7th & 11th).
Scouting Profile: Williams is that odd combination of a point guard, and being 6 foot 6. I always like unconventional players, for some reason and Williams fits the bill here. Even more intriguing is that he is one of the most pure point guards in the draft, possessing a good IQ and court-vision.
11.8 ppg, 7.3 apg, 5.0 rpg, 39.3% FG, 29.4% 3PT, 69.4% FT, 2.7 SPG
Overall Impression: Oh wow, he is a terrible shooter. Like, wow. That's really bad. My first thought was "maybe he's Rajon Rondo". Well: that's not that far off. Rondo's stats as a Wildcat were:
11.2 ppg, 4.9 apg, 6.1 rpg, 48.2% FG, 27.3% 3PT%, 57.1% FT, 2.0 SPG
Rondo shot better (that's sad), but Carter-Williams' beats him handily in passing. Interesting that Rondo rebounded more than him at 6'1, duly noted. If we were to trade back to anything past ten I'd take this guy and hope he develops like Rondo did, but without three hall of famers influencing his career trajectory I don't see that happening
NBA Comparison: A Maloof's Rajon Rondo, but taller.
Schneezel Happiness Score if Drafted: 2/10 or 4/10 depending on with what pick.
Otto Porter Jr. F, Georgetown (PROJECTED BETWEEN 3rd & 7th)
Scouting Profile: Seems to be a jack of all trades, can do everything pretty well. He isn't the strongest defender out there, but his real potential comes as a weak-side defender. He will be out-muscled in one on one situations, but he communicates well enough on the court that when he is about to be beat, someone else might be able to step in and help him.
Statistics: 16.2 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 2.7 apg, 50.2 FG%, 44% 3PT, 77% FT, 2.0 SPG, 1.0 BPG.
Overall Impression: He doesn't demand the ball, shoots well when he has it, and defends intelligently. Porter is going to be a helluva cog on a good team, even if he isn't a star. He would instantly be the best small forward on the team, and start for us going into the 2013/2014 season. He feels like the Kidd Gilchrist of this draft, if you will. Maybe not as good, or better I can't really say, but he seems like a very safe pick who will contribute wherever he goes.
NBA Comparison: Taeyshaun Prince, I guess.
Schneezel Happiness Score if Drafted: 9/10
If I had to pick today, I would almost certainly go with Porter Jr. if he is available. He fills a need for us, if not spectacularly, very solidly. He seems to play smart, and does not demand possessions from our shot-heavy team.
If I had to be realistic, I'd probably take Trey Burke because of one fear and one fear alone. The eventual exit of Isaiah Thomas. I love IT, but I don't feel like the new management is going to pay the salary that he will command if he is still our starting point guard. He is a great sixth man on a contender, but he feels like that player who will be overpaid in free agency, and I don't think we'll be the ones to give him a hefty paycheck. If he resigned for 4-6 million a year, I'd be okay with keeping him and having him come off the bench, but if we are too far away from winning at that stage, he may bolt for a mid-level contract all the same.
This draft really is not spectacular, I know. But, it is still important for teams like ours. If I had it my way, I'd almost certainly trade the pick to Cleveland for their next year's selection and our protected pick back (if we can do that) and hope that one of our picks turns into Wiggins or Parker in 2014. That seems like a moonshot, but man I do love me some Andrew Wiggins.