For a bad basketball team and its loyal fanbase, this is the most wonderful time of the year. Sure, the NBA Playoffs are happening, and as much as we’d all love to be there, I’ll miss draft and free agency speculation when (if?) the Kings return to the postseason.
This is a particularly important offseason for the Sacramento Kings. After finally cashing in their DeMarcus Cousins chips for draft considerations and Buddy Hield, it’s make-it-or-break-it time for those assets. They need to hit it big in the draft this year. They just have to.
Fortunately for the Kings, who were originally slated to pick at #8 and #10 in the draft, the basketball gods graced them with some extremely important lottery luck, thrusting the Kings into the 5th and 10th selections. While most draft pundits are predicting that the Kings will use their 5th pick on Kentucky PG De’Aaron Fox, those same pundits are all over the map when it comes to the 10th pick. Nobody knows what the Kings are going to do in that spot, largely because there isn’t an easy prediction to make.
The Kings need a point guard, Fox fits exactly what they are looking for. They have a rich history of drafting players out of Kentucky, and Fox wants to be here! That is an easy prediction.
The prospects most mock drafts have slotted in that 10th pick range don’t necessarily fit team needs. You’re looking at a lot of bigs (hello, Willie Cauley-Stein, Skal Labissiere, and George Papagiannis) and I understand the Best Player Available argument and generally agree with it, although ‘Best Player’ is almost always an opinion when you’re talking about potential, and every discussion is about potential right now. Nobody knows what these players are going to develop in to, and the Kings have a lot of young talent in the frontcourt already, but I digress.
The Kings have a young asset problem, and I use that term lightly. It’s a good problem to have, but a problem none the less. They have a lot of young players, and if they stand pat, they’ll add three more young players in the draft. It’s borderline impossible to develop that many guys at the same time, particularly when most of them aren’t A-tier prospects. They might develop into all-star level players, but I don’t think there is a franchise guy here yet, and I’d be pretty surprised if any current King develops into one.
I’m going to get to the point now, I promise.
The Kings should try and consolidate some of their young assets, and move up. Greg suggested something similar a week or so ago, but more in the line of thinking that they could package #5 and #10 to move into the top-2 or 3. I’d like to see them go a slightly different route, taking Fox at #5 and trying to turn that #10 pick into #6, #7, or #8 to try and land Florida State SF Jonathan Isaac.
They have the assets to do it, it’s just a matter of cost and desire. Do they like Isaac? Do they want to move up? Are they willing to part with a young player or two?
The moment the Kings traded for Buddy Hield, Malachi Richardson became expendable, to a degree. Euroleague star Bogdan Bogdanovic is probably joining the Kings next season. Garrett Temple is still under contract, and should absolutely be part of the Kings next season. It just feels like Malachi is the odd man out. I like Malachi, and you might be able to give him some run at small forward, but you have to give something to get something.
Does Malachi Richardson, #10, and #34 get the Kings #6, #7, or #8?
Does taking on a bad contract like Joakim Noah get it done?
In the interest of transparency, I’m not necessarily a Jonathan Isaac believer, but his potential is off the charts, and if the Kings can walk away from the draft with top prospects at their two weakest positions, it could be a franchise changing night for a team that desperately needs a franchise changing night.
What is the cost of moving up, and is it worth it?