Well after a surprising and exhilarating win in the first game after the deadline, the Kings have now fallen back to earth, losing their last five games with seemingly no end in sight. They got close to beating the Utah Jazz on Sunday, but some iffy officiating and late game mishaps cost them that one as well. While the playoffs aren’t technically out of reach, almost nobody is kidding themselves about what this team is capable of right now. This season’s all about setting up the future now.
The High Post
I still think the Kings should have done the Cousins trade sooner, and I think they botched the actual trade itself, but now that it’s good and done, I’m fully embracing the rebuild. And you know what? The Kings are actually a little farther along than you might think.
Rebuilds tend to start around youth, and the Kings already have that. Willie Cauley-Stein’s a second-year player who is quickly coming into his own. Even before acquiring rookie Buddy Hield, the Kings already had three rookies of their own, and both Skal Labissiere and Malachi Richardson have shown flashes this season.
Now the Kings have potentially two first round picks in what seems to be an absolutely loaded draft. I’m still early on in my research for college players, but just looking at DraftExpress’s initial mock draft, there’s like 10 or 12 guys projected to the lottery that intrigue me, and there’s a very good possibility that the Kings could draft TWO of them. Then there’s the fact that the team is likely (I won’t say certainly, because KANGZ) bringing in Bogdan Bogdanovic from Europe next season as well. This team is set to be loaded with youth next season and will own their pick outright in 2018, no conditions whatsoever.
The one thing the Kings don’t have right now is a franchise building block. Sometimes that comes through the draft, and perhaps one of our current guys or an upcoming pick develops into that role. The other way is perhaps assembling a bunch of youth and assets and then trading for an established star.
I hope the Kings truly embrace this rebuild for the opportunity to do things right.
The Low Post
Any one else having a tough time getting motivated to watch games featuring a bunch of players who likely have no future with the Sacramento Kings?
I’m totally with Omer on the fact that Sacramento’s young players should be earning their place on the court instead of being thrown into the fire. I understand the reasoning, and I think it’s actually showed results already this season. But it’s a little hard for me to get emotionally invested into watching a lineup of guys like Darren Collison, Tyreke Evans, Arron Afflalo, Anthony Tolliver and Kosta Koufos that features absolutely none of our young guys. I get pumped up when Skal or Buddy checks in, or when Willie makes a big play on defense. These are the guys that are gonna be in Sacramento for potentially the long run and I want to see them play.
But when none of them are in the game, it’s just a little hard for me to get excited. I will never actively root for the Kings to lose, but I’m also not super thrilled about the idea of the team winning meaningless games on the backs of vets that won’t even be here at this time next year. So for me, the Utah game was actually an ideal result; It was a competitive and exciting game that Sacramento had the chance of winning but in the end didn’t.
As the season rolls on, I hope that we’ll see a little more and more of the Kings youth featured as it becomes clear that a playoff chase is nothing but fool’s gold.
The View From Section 214
One person’s approach to crunching draft pick success numbers –
As recently as a few weeks ago, your Sacramento Kings were flirting with entering the 2017 NBA draft with no first round picks. As of right now it appears that the Kings could wind up with as many as two top ten picks (the vagaries of bouncing ping pong balls notwithstanding), which would also mean that they would convey their 2nd round pick to the Chicago Bulls as final compensation for the ill-fated J.J. Hickson for Omri Casspi trade of over five (!!!) years ago. (Good greebus, Reince Priebus, have we really been chasing the fallout from that trade for over five years?!? But I digress…)
With the Kings hopefully getting two pulls at the lottery brass ring this year, I thought that it would be interesting to look at how recent draft history has rewarded its participants, or at least how it has rewarded the various draft positions.
A few disclaimers – I set a very capricious bar here by listing only players that have made an NBA all-star team and/or an all-NBA team (to my knowledge, Goran Dragic is the only player on this list to make an all-NBA team while never being named an all-star). Mike Bibby (drafted #2 in 1998) is a great example of a player that was neither an all-star or an all-NBA player, yet I don’t think that anyone would argue that he was not a good player. Conversely, while Jamal Magloire was a very nice pick at #19 (good gravy that was a bad draft…Hedo Turkoglu may have been a top five player that year), he also represents the low end of the all-star scale (I’ll see your Magloire and raise you an Andrew Bynum!).
Also, my list covers from 2000-present, so it is definitely subject to some small sample size shenanigans. Be that as it may, it does serve as a launching pad for review and conversation. Without further ado…
Draft Picks that became Stars
|Pick||# Players||Players||% Total||Running %|
|Pick||# Players||Players||% Total||Running %|
|1||10||A. Davis, Irving, Wall, Griffin, Rose, Bogut, Howard, James, Ming, Kenyon Martin||13.7||13.7|
|2||3||Durant, Aldridge, Chandler||4.1||17.8|
|3||5||Harden, Horford, Deron Williams, Anthony, P. Gasol||6.8||24.7|
|4||3||Westbrook, Paul, Bosh||4.1||28.8|
|5||4||Cousins, Love, Devin Harris, Wade||5.5||34.2|
|6||3||Lillard, Roy, Kaman||4.1||38.4|
|9||7||Drummond, Walker, Hayward, DeRozan, Noah, Iguodala, A. Stoudemire||9.6||50.7|
|10||5||George. B. Lopez, Bynum, Butler, J. Johnson||6.8||57.5|
|15||3||Antetoukounmpo, Leonard, A. Jefferson||4.1||63|
|17||3||Holiday, Hibbert, Granger||4.1||67.1|
|19||3||Teague, Randolph, Magloire||4.1||72.6|
|35||3||D. Green, D. Jordan, Boozer||4.1||89|
|47||2||Millsap, Mo Williams||2.7||95.9|
OK, let’s parse through some completely meaningless numbers!
Let’s start with the total number of players, 73. That is really split up over 14 drafts, as the most recent draft to produce an all-star is 2013 via alleged Geoff Petrie darling Giannis Antetokounmpo. That would equate to about five all-stars per draft, reduced to four if you wanted to include draft years 2014-2016.
Next, let’s look at how the odds of success mirror the range in which you draft. If you draft #1 (a mathematical impossibility for the Kings this year barring some sort of mind-bending trade), your odds of landing an all-star are at least twice what they are if you draft anywhere else…except for the 9th slot. Anomaly alert! Anomaly alert!
The 8th and 9th slot shows the ludicrous nature of looking at any single draft slot (with the exception of the #1 pick). Almost 10% of the recent all-stars have come out of the nine hole, and zero out of the eight slot? That’s just weird, and will ultimately change at least a little when Nik Stauskas makes his first all-star game appearance.
Ranges are probably the way to go here, and they look something like this:
· #1 pick – 13.7% of all-stars drafted since 2000
· #1-5 – 34.2%
· #2-5 – 20.5%
· #6-10 – 23.2%
· #1-10 – 57.5%
· Lottery – 58.9%
· Non-Lottery – 41.1%
· 1st round – 83.6%
· 2nd round – 16.4%
Not exactly a news flash here, but the higher you pick, the better your chances. One thing that piques my interest is that picks 1, 3, 9 & 10 are the only slots that have five or more all-stars. It makes me wonder if that nine and ten spot is the point where teams stop trying to hit lottery homeruns and opt instead for solid players that ultimately grow their games. If we look at that group of players, I think that it would be fair to define Andre Drummond, Andrew Bynum and Amare Stoudemire as raw recruits, but the rest of those guys were at least to some extent more polished as players. Again, this may be nothing more than the small sample size phenomena, but it has me wondering.
Another way to calculate this is to divide the all-star success by the fourteen drafts that produced them. For example 71% of the #1 picks over that period went on to attain all-star status. That’s a pretty nice rate.
· #1 pick – 71.4%
· #1-5 pick – 35.7%
· #2-5 – 26.8%
· #6-10 – 24.3%
· #1-10 – 30%
· Lottery – 21.9%
· Non-Lottery – 4.7%
· 1st round – 14.5%
· 2nd round – 2.9%
These are some numbers that we can sink our teeth into.
If you have the #1 pick, you have 2-3 times the odds of snaring an all-star than if you’re picking in the 2-5 slot. Lottery picks have better than four times the chance of non-lottery picks (skewed by that #1 pick, of course) and 1st round picks have five times the chance of success than 2nd round picks (again, #1 pick skewed).
Bottom line, after the #1 pick it really becomes a crap shoot. The higher you pick, the better, as there are more fish in the pond. But that is no guarantee that you won’t land a guppy while one of the bigger fish swim under your boat (John Salmons and Travis Outlaw flashbacks – bad analogy! Bad analogy!)
I butt-pulldicted the Kings picking at #6 for themselves and #10 with the New Orleans pick a couple of weeks ago. New Orleans has underperformed to my prediction to this point, so maybe the Kings pick 6 and 8 or 6 and 9 (ping pong balls lurking, of course). Based on the history of 2000 to present, there will be one all-star in this draft class chosen between 6 and 10, and the Kings have less than a 50% chance of grabbing him. This does not mean that they won’t grab players that will help this team rebuild, and this does not mean that they won’t catch lightning in a bottle…heaven knows that this organization is due. But the odds don’t favor the Kings, much in the same way that they don’t favor any NBA team that does not possess the #1 pick. Breaks…good breaks…are needed.
Kimani’s Photo of the Week
It has to be this incredible shot of Willie Cauley-Stein’s near murder of Rudy Gobert.
Highlight of the Week
Player of the Week
14.5 PTS, .467 FG%, .300 3P%, 7.3 AST, 2.5 REB, 1.5 STL in 34.6 MPG
The Kings have played poorly this week, especially as they get used to playing with their new teammates and not in an offense designed around DeMarcus Cousins, but man oh man, could it have looked a lot worse. Having competent Point Guard play really helps things along, and Ty Lawson has at least provided that. He’s much more a playmaker than Darren Collison is, and his chemistry in the Pick and Roll with Sacramento’s young bigs is nice to see. I expect the Kings will keep at least one of their PG duo of Lawson and Collison next year to provide a little stability at a crucial position going forward.
Mar. 8th at San Antonio Spurs at 5:30 p.m.
Mar. 10th vs. Washington Wizards at 7:30 p.m.
Mar. 11th vs. Denver Nuggets at 7:30 p.m.