Ailene Voisin had a great interview with new GM Pete D'Alessandro the other day in which they talked about a variety of topics. Of particular interest to me were D'Alessandro's answers to what kind of team he'd like to build.
D'Alessandro identified three areas he'd like to focus on, in an ideal world:
2. Playmaking/Sharing the ball
Now of course, that's simplifying what D'Alessandro said a bit (I highly recommend reading the entire interview) but for our purposes, let's take a look at the prospects in this year's draft that could fulfill that vision.
First, let's eliminate players who likely will not be available at 7. That includes Nerlens Noel, Otto Porter, Alex Len and Victor Oladipo.
There are some rumors that Ben McLemore might be slipping down the draft due to poor workouts and other issues. I can't help but think that this is just a big smokescreen. McLemore is one of the top shooters and scorers in the draft as well as a phenomenal athlete. If he really does fall to 7, the Kings should pick him and never look back.
Anthony Bennett is a player consistently in the Top 7 of most mock drafts, but unlike McLemore, I think there could be a real shot that he is available at 7. He's also a very good athlete, one that would fit an up-tempo style of play, and he's also a good outside shooter. There's some question of his position in the NBA but I see him playing PF, even at 6'7. One thing Bennett doesn't have is great passing instincts. I'm personally not a big fan of Bennett, but I could see the Kings taking him should he drop to 7.
Trey Burke is the first prospect in the Kings range that seemingly fits all three of D'Alessandro's criteria. Michigan was a fast-paced and high-scoring team and Burke was the one leading the way. Burke also features a fantastic 3:1 assist to turnover ratio as well as a great 37.3% assist rate. Burke also managed to be one of the best shooters and the leading scorer on his team. He seems like a great candidate for the Kings, but I think there's a decent chance he could be gone by 7, most likely to the Pelicans at 6.
C.J. McCollum is one player who will almost certainly be there when the Kings pick. McCollum is one of the best, if not the best, scorers and shooters in the draft. He's a fantastic rebounder for his size and while he's not nearly the playmaker as Trey Burke or Michael Carter-Williams, he posted a similar collegiate assist rate as Damian Lillard. There is question about what position McCollum will play in the NBA, but he has good size for a PG and would be a nice fit next to Tyreke Evans, as both players can run the offense. I would not be surprised at all if the Kings snapped him up at 7.
Another PG the Kings have reportedly been interested in is Michael Carter-Williams. MCW is a fantastic athlete and the best playmaker in the draft with a 40.1% assist rate. He also has a reputation as a good defender. However, he can't shoot at all. His career FG% in two years at Syracuse was just 39.8% from the field and 30.7% from three. He would not fit well next to Tyreke Evans, although he might do well with Isaiah Thomas or Marcus Thornton. Drafting MCW would fill the need for an up-tempo pass-first PG but it would simply add to the Kings current shooting problems, at least as the roster is currently constructed.
Cody Zeller is the only big man that I think the Kings would consider at 7. Zeller was one of the top big men in college last year, particularly on the offensive end, and his athleticism would be ideal for a fast-paced offense. He's also showcased the ability to hit the NBA three-pointer in his draft workouts. He'll also give the Kings some big man insurance if things do not work out with DeMarcus Cousins.
Of the other players the Kings have brought in to work out, Shabazz Muhammad is the only one that might be worth the 7th pick. However, despite the fact that he's worked out for the Kings twice, I don't think he'd be a good fit for this team or D'Alessandro's vision. Muhammad would add another player to exacerbate Sacramento's lack of passing; Last year Muhammad had just 27 assists in 32 games. While he's one of the higher scorers in the draft, he does it very inefficiently with a True Shooting % of just .528, the lowest of all the wings in the draft. His rebound rate for a wing is only lower than Tony Snell's. Defensively, he had just 23 steals and 4 blocks all year. I will be very surprised (and disappointed) if Muhammad's name is called for the 7th pick.
There are a few other players that could be in play for Sacramento should the team acquire another first round pick. We've heard of both Tim Hardaway Jr. and Tony Snell as players the Kings like. Both are good shooters and Snell is a particularly good passer for a forward. I also think Sergey Karasev would be a great fit on both those fronts. In terms of big men, Gorgui Dieng and Mike Muscala would both seem to make sense for Sacramento further down in the draft. Both can hit the outside shot and both are good passers for big men. Dieng is a better defender and Muscala is a better rebounder.
In the end, D'Alessandro will not be making these picks in a vacuum. He will be consulting with his staff and most importantly head coach Mike Malone. That being said, I think there are three clear targets for Sacramento in Thursday's draft, assuming no crazy drops of players like Ben McLemore or Victor Oladipo: Trey Burke, C.J. McCollum and Cody Zeller.
Thursday can't come soon enough.