Getting started a little early today, so I'm going to fire of a little rantdumb thoughts here, Nik Stauskas edition. Hope it makes sense.
The reaction to the drafting of Stauskas by the Kings last night could probably best be described as mixed. I think that this is certainly a fair response, one that would garner a wait and see attitude overall.
I wasn't surprised that some folks didn't like the pick. I, for one, had Noah Vonleh as my best available. Vonleh was 6-8 on my list, jumbled in with Aaron Gordon and Marcus Smart. He was among the latter portion of my tier two list (Julius Randle, Dante Exum, and the above-mentioned three). Stauskas was at the beginning of my tier three, along with Doug McDermott and Dario Saric, with Elfrid Payton and Jusuf Nurkic in hot pursuit). But when it was all said and done, the Kings passed on my 6-8 guy for my 9-11 guy. All in all, I have to be OK with that, right?
The draft contest had Vonleh as the consensus #5 pick, with Stauskas at #10. Our draft board had Vonleh at #6 and Stauskas at #14, though Stauskas was gaining momentum as the draft drew near. Based on this, it is apparent why there has been some backlash to the pick. For what it's worth, we had Anthony Randolph as the #5 player on our draft board back in the Jason Thompson draft, so...yeah.
Furthermore, the Kings were rumored to be involved in any and every kind of deal. Trading up. Trading down. No draft picks. More draft picks! Josh Smith. Taj Gibson. Rajon Rondo. Kevin Love. And when the dust cleared, we had Nik Stauskas. Nik. Stauskas.
Stauskas is not the partner that we are looking to pair with DeMarcus Cousins up front. That player was not in this draft at #8 (not for this year, anyway, as Vonleh is at least a year away). We may need a point guard if Isaiah Thomas leaves, but again, his replacement for this year was not available at #8.
But the "good news" for the Kings is that their needs are many, including production from their starting shooting guard and wing production from the bench. And this is where Stauskas could potentially help the Kings in a big way.
The drafting of Stauskas is not a death knell for Ben McLemore. Based on how McLemore finished the season, I am guessing that he has at least a slight leg up on Stauskas right now. I'm not saying that the starting job has been given to him by any means. I am saying that he is likely ahead of Stauskas in the here and the now. But when it's all said and done, one of these guys could start and one could get some serious burn off the bench, including in three guard sets. The Kings have a definite need at the positions that Stauskas could fill.
I disagree with the notion that the Kings could have traded down and still been assured of drafting Stauskas. As I noted earlier, we had him going at #10 in our draft contest consensus. What could have been had by swapping picks with Charlotte...and would Charlotte have guaranteed not to keep Stauskas? Philly at #10? There was likely no way of guaranteeing that he would have still been available. And remember, the Kings were not the only team that saw him perform and impress at his Chicago workout. Others could have moved up to grab him.
Now, the Kings could have very likely had a deal on the table from the Bulls for the #8, as Chicago dealt the #16 and #19 to Denver for McDermott. Would you have done that? Nurkic and Tyler Ennis were taken at #16 and #19, and I like both of those players. But I'm happier (I think) with Stauskas, and so was Kings management. (My guess is that Taj Gibson was never available, as he will ultimately be part of a Love or ‘Melo deal if he is dealt at all).
I also don't get the Jimmer Fredette comparisons. Simply, if you look at their respective games and physical attributes, they are nothing alike. I just don't get it.
I appreciate all of the strong takes on both sides of the aisle. I sure don't fathom how one can fashion such a strong take at this juncture, but I sure appreciate the passion and the conversation that it sparks. And I mean that with 100% sincerity.
I was brilliant when I placed Kawhi Leonard at #5 on my draft board a few years ago. I was something less than brilliant when I placed Jan Vesely at #6. I was less than at my best when I proclaimed that Bob Sura would be better than Steve Nash. My opinions are steeped in what I see from players while they are competing at a level lower than the NBA. My opinions are to be considered, but probably not trusted.
With age has either come humility or I've just plain become a pussy, but I cannot wander into a thread and state with any conviction that a draftee is going to succeed or fail. Because for every Kawhi Leonard that I give you, I also give you a Jan Vesely. It's a crapshoot.
And the same goes for all of these draft prognosticators that help us from our opinions. They do a great job of gathering information on the players and reporting what's going on, but at the end of the day their draft predictions are nothing more than that: predictions. Predictions based on misinformation and misdirection that is handed down by NBA team after team after team. Isn't it interesting that the guy that the Kings took seemed to barely be on their radar? Hmmm. So when a "draft expert" gives the Kings a low draft grade for not drafting the guy that he thought we should have taken, I ingest that with appropriate grains of salt.
Should we be disappointed that after all of the talk, the roster is just plus one rookie today? Yes. But let's remember that free agency is still a few days away, and the trade lines are still open. The Kings may not be done yet. But if they are done, perhaps they did just get a wee bit better last night, at least incrementally.