This is the third 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.
When the Sacramento Kings were actually relevant, the biggest reason was because of their big men. Vlade Divac and Chris Webber saw their jerseys hung in the rafters for their efforts to try to bring home a championship, and their immediate successor Brad Miller wasn't bad himself.
The Kings have staked their future in a big man once again as DeMarcus Cousins broke out to become the team's best player last season. Now the question seems to be who can the Kings get that will fit in with DeMarcus best? Jason Thompson was the main man last season, performing very well off of the ball. The previous season the Kings had Samuel Dalembert next to Cousins providing a shotblocking and rebounding presence, although Dalembert often tried to do a bit more than necessary on offense.
In looking for DeMarcus Cousins' ideal frontcourt partner, this draft offers up many, many options. In DraftExpress' current mock draft, 8 of the lottery picks are big men, and 14 of the 30 first rounders. The clear #1 pick in the draft, Anthony Davis, is also a big man. If I had to bet, I'd say the Kings will probably end up drafting a big man, not only because of the abundance of them, but also the fact that they could use more depth there.
|Perry Jones III||30.7||13.5||0.5||.303(10/33)||0.696||7.6||1.3||0.8||0.6||1.7||2.3|
|Perry Jones III||21.2||0.539||0.28||11||18.3||8.7||1.6||2.1||12||23.3|
There are very, very few players I would rather have be DeMarcus Cousins' frontcourt partner of the future over Anthony Davis. In fact, the only one that I would 100% take over him is Dwight Howard. Davis looks to be a fantastic player in his own right, the clear-cut best player in College Basketball last year as a Freshman. But his skills are the perfect complement to DeMarcus. Davis is a player who can have a huge impact on the game without needing the ball. If you look at his usage rate, he has the second lowest usage rate among the big men listed. Yet when he was asked to score, he was ridiculously efficient, posting the second highest True Shooting Percentage. On the glass, Davis is a solid, not amazing rebounder, but that's ok because DeMarcus is an amazing rebounder. Where Davis makes his living is on the defensive side of things where he is just an absurd shotblocker. Davis had a 13.7% Block Rate in one of the top divisions of College Basketball. If the Kings were somehow lucky enough to land Davis, the Kings would have the building blocks of a dynasty.
After Davis, there is no clear Franchise player in the mix although there are quite a few players who could be very good players, and they might be available without the Kings having to get super lucky. Thomas Robinson is probably my favorite of the bunch. Robinson is a bit undersized for a big man, but he makes up for it with great athleticism and the fact that he's a rebounding machine. Offensively, Robinson was the central focus of his Kansas team and so took a lot of shots and wasn't necessarily all that efficient. He also struggled against some of the bigger teams and under pressure, something he shouldn't have to worry as much about if he were next to DeMarcus Cousins. Defensively is where Robinson could have some issues.
Jared Sullinger is similar to Robinson in that he's undersized and was the star of his team, but he plays very differently. Sullinger isn't nearly the rebounder, although he's good, and he has a very refined offensive game. He can score in the low post and can also take it all the way out to the Three Point line. He kind of reminds me of Carlos Boozer. Defense will be an issue, as will conditioning. Sullinger has lost a lot of weight since he began college but he still isn't the most athletic player.
John Henson seems like he'd be a good option for the Kings as well, offering up a little bit of what Davis can bring. He's a good rebounder and a very good shotblocker. Henson can score as well, but his main calling card in the NBA will be defense.
Then there are the big men who could be boom or bust in the NBA. Andre Drummond is one of the youngest player in the Draft and also one of the most raw. He struggled in his lone season at UConn, and the Huskies didn't even make it past the first round of the tourney. Drummond has a couple things going for him. He's insanely athletic, and also a great shotblocker and offensive rebounder. However he's a very bad defensive rebounder and has an incredibly raw offensive game. He has absolutely no range outside of the paint, and just judging by the 29.5% Free Throw Percentage, that's probably not going to change anytime soon. Still, at some point the upside outweighs the risk, and it might be worth the Kings trouble if he manages to fall down to the Kings (assuming the Kings don't jump up into the top 3, where I wouldn't take Drummond).
The other boom or bust player is Perry Jones. Jones is a bit of a tweener, but he's got NBA big man size at 6'11. However Jones plays a bit more like a Shooting Guard or a Small Forward at times instead of a big man, shooting jumpers and handling the ball. As you can tell by his free throw rate (one of the lowest among the bigs listed), Jones is not very aggressive attacking the basket and doesn't look for contact. This has been a knock on him in college, along with motivation and overall effort. There is no doubt Jones has a lot of the skills and physical tools needed to become a good NBA player, but that's all moot if the work is not put in. Considering the Kings' overall lack of experience, I'm more hesitant than ever on the team drafting projects like a Drummond or Jones. Then again, Keith Smart does seem to do a good job with player development, something that could not be said for our last few coaches.
Zeller, Jones, Leonard and Moultrie are further down the list and I don't think there is anything wrong with them per se, I just don't think any of them will be in the mix when the Kings pick. All seem like they could be good contributors to an NBA team. I'm honestly more intrigued by a few undersized big men that are projected to go in the late first or early second round. Every year there seems to be an undersized player who goes way too low in the draft. Last year it was Kenneth Faried and Isaiah Thomas. The players I see like that in this draft are Royce White, Draymond Green and Andrew Nicholson. White and Green are similar in that they are really undersized (Green is Chuck Hayesian in terms of height) and both really know how to pass a ball. Green also overcomes his lack of height by using his long arms to grab a ton of rebounds. He can score from anywhere on the floor as well, taking a bunch of shots at the three point line and making them at a good rate to boot. If Green falls out of the first round and into the Kings laps, they should take him and not look back. I feel the same way about Andrew Nicholson as well. Nicholson is a scorer and an efficient one at that. He's very athletic and unlike some of his peers who squander their athletic ability, Nicholson uses it to his advantage on both ends of the floor, where he's also a capable defender and shotblocker.
The talent level drops quite a bit after the first round for bigs however. Fab Melo is a name you might hear talked about, and he might go in the first round simply due to being a big man. Melo does one thing well and that's block shots. He's a horrendous rebounder, and I don't want "horrendous rebounder" being associated with my big man. Festus Ezeli is a local kid (he went to High School at Jesuit), but despite being a senior he's still very raw.
With Jason Thompson's future as a King semi-uncertain (due to free agency) and Chuck Hayes' disappointing year, it looks very good that the Kings lottery pick this year will be a big man. If the Kings choose right (or get really lucky), they could once again have a stable frontcourt to carry them back to relevance.