Yesterday I waxed moronic in regards to who I would like to see the Kings pick if they were to land a top three pick in the 2015 NBA draft. It was either that or pontificate on what my first sexual encounter will be when I get to Mars (resisting arrested development of a 13 year old to substitute "Mars" with "Uranus"). Today, we look at the more likely scenario: that the Kings draft as high as #6 (and you're high if you think that will happen) or as low as #9. I'm guessing #7, as it is the most likely outcome and gives us the opportunity to say that we've been screwed yet again.
The "good" news for me is that I have five players in my "B" tier (with Karl-Anthony Towns, D'Angelo Russell, Emmanuel Mudiay and Jahlil Okafor comprising yesterday's "A" tier. The beauty of such a ranking system is that it enables me to not simply go down in flames over the ranking of a single player, but to go down in flames over the ranking of an entire group of players. I'll have some hits and misses here, but the only thing that I know for sure is that I will sing the features and benefits of a future bust, while players that miss my list go on to stardom. Because as much as I liked Kawhi Leonard, I liked Derrick Williams even more.
To the big board!
Justise Winslow - 6'7", 230 lbs., SF
Jerryisms: "And Justise for all!" "Justise with a little Dukie jukie." "That was a Winslow wing-dinger!"
Winslow seems to have the common element with Duke teammate Jahlil Okafor of having an NBA-ready body. He was a very efficient if unspectacular scorer at Duke, and, as mentioned yesterday in regards to Okafor, he can pass the rock just like just about everyone that comes through Duke. Winslow is a better spot-up shooter than he is off the dribble, and it will be interesting to see if he can replicate his success at the rim at the NBA level. He really projects to be a lower-end option early in his NBA career, but he could develop into a legitimate offensive threat.
Winslow lands on my list here thanks to his defensive chops. His quickness and 6-10 wingspan make him a guy that can guard at least the two and three, and possibly even the one and four. If Winslow goes high in this draft, he'll have Draymond Green, DeMarre Carroll and Khris Middleton to thank for it. And this is where I really like Winslow, as a team's Swiss army knife.
Does he fit? In Karl's system, absolutely. Would he play right away? Given that Winslow's presence would likely mean Rudy Gay getting at least some minutes at the four, yes, though perhaps not as a starter. Is he the right pick? Who knows?
Willie Cauley-Stein - 7'0", 245 lbs., C/PF
Jerryisms: "Willie make it? You bet he will!" "Thrilly Cauley-Stein with the rejection!" "The Cauleystein monster."
Well, at least when he is drafted the pick right before ours, we can all say "The Trill is gone."
If you're drafting Cauley-Stein, you're not doing it for his offense. Don't get me wrong - he's not a lost cause. He finishes well, and he has improved his free throw percentage in each of his years at Kentucky (up to 62% this past season). WCS showed limited passing ability in college, but he has definitely shown himself as a guy that does not need a lot of touches to be engaged.
When Cauley-Stein is drafted, it will be for his defense. He has the size to guard centers and the quickness to guard power forwards and perhaps even some small forwards (he even guarded point guards now and then at UK). He may be the best pick and roll defender to come out of the draft in years, and he is a gifted shot blocker.
Does he fit? Not as a stretch four, but the Kings interior defense would improve exponentially. Would he play right away? Yes, but I wouldn't bet the house that he wins a starting job by opening night. Is he the right pick? Who knows?
Kristaps Porzingis - 7'0", 220 lbs., PF
Jerryisms: "No one stops Kristaps." The Kristo Kid." "The Latvian Laser."
The one thing that stands out to me in the limited film that I have seen is that Porzingis can flat out shoot. He has the look of the prototypical stretch four. His combination of length and quick release could make him a nightmare for opponents that give him any kind of room on the perimeter. He definitely possesses a shoot-first mentality, as assists are few and far between for him.
Porzingis could be an interesting defensive player long-term, as he does have the ability to block shots and fill passing lanes. However, his current 220 lb. frame is going to get pushed around big time. Not yet 20, he will need time to develop an NBA body.
Does he fit? Like a glove, eventually. As a stretch four, he would certainly clear space inside for Cousins. Would he play right away? I have my doubts, and it all revolves around his build. Is he the right pick? Ask Vlade Divac.
Mario Hezonja - 6'8", 200 lbs., SF/SG
Jerryisms: "Who's on ya? Hezonja!" "Super Mario." "In your fascia from Croatia."
Poor man's Klay Thompson? Rich man's Nick Young (fear of dolphins notwithstanding)? Here's a guy that is the most prolific perimeter shooter among the lottery picks when you look at shots and points per minute, with at least a little ability to get to the rack and operate in the pick and roll. He moves reasonably well without the ball, making him a back-cut candidate.
Defensively he's a bit of a question mark. He seems to have the physical tools but has not always exhibited the desire.
Does he fit? Again, in George Karl's wing-happy offensive schemes, yes. Would he play right away? He'd have to get around Nik Stauskas, and he is going to be limited by his defense until he learns the NBA game. Is he the right pick? Again, I'll defer to Vlade.
Stanley Johnson, 6'8", 245 lbs., SF
Jerryisms: "Stanley's manly." "Stantastic!" "I marvel at Stanley" (we all know that Jerry wears Ironman underoos).
The last of my "B" tier, making it on the steam of my lust for Kawhi Leonard. He has a long, long way to go on the offensive end to become a perimeter threat, sort of an early-days Gerald Wallace. He has the size, length and quickness to guard the two, three and four, but his lack of offensive consistency places him well behind Winslow for me.
Does he fit? He would have fit better under Malone, but he could find a home here under Karl. Would he play right away? In times of defensive stops and some opportunities when the team goes small. Is he the right pick? Who knows?
That's it for my "B" tier, with Myles Turner, Frank Kaminsky and Kelly Oubre narrowly missing the cut. Kevin Looney and Devin Booker round out the lottery for me, though a case could certainly be made for Trey Lyles, Sam Dekker or Kris Dunn. My current board:
Ping pong balls drop on May 19, and the draft takes place on June 25. A lot will happen between now and then, and the above list will be subject to ongoing change. But whether it is two weeks or six weeks from now, we won't know anymore then than we know right now as it pertains to who on this list is on their way to NBA supremacy or infamy. And that is both terrifying and glorious, as we walk the walk of a Kings fan in late spring and early summer for the ninth straight summer.