In just under a couple of days the future of our organization will either take a huge step forward or continue its depressing slide into basketball oblivion. Holding the 5th, 10th, and 34th picks, the Kings have the most valuable combination of draft picks, and if the Front Office can hit a couple of home runs, this rebuild will be behind us in no time.
With so many choices, rumors, picks, and prospects floating around the NBA atmosphere these days, we gathered our forces together at Sactown Royalty headquarters to answer a few questions about the most important draft in recent history.
Which projected lottery selection is most likely to slide further than expected?
Babygiraffe: My original prediction was going to be Jayson Tatum, but with the Celtics-Sixers trade, I think that’s out the window. Now, Malik Monk is probably the biggest candidate to take a drop on Thursday. Philadelphia was a great fit for him, but most teams in the top 10 have bigger holes than shooting guard, so he may end up being snagged in the 10-12 range with teams like Charlotte and Detroit both needing to add shooting.
Kevin Fippin: I have to agree with Tim. I had Monk going 3rd overall to Philadelphia. Now, I could easily see him dropping all the way to the Kings at 10.
section214: There is so much volatility once you get about three or four picks into this draft. I could see Lonzo Ball going for a ride, though I don’t really expect it. Monk is a prime candidate, but since I am not contractually permitted to agree with Kevin, I’m going to go with De’Aaron Fox. Nothing to back my prediction here, I’m just guessing that what goes up must come down (I am also predicting Fox at #5, so I am indeed a two-faced, double-dealing, fence-sitting drafthole).
W. Griffith: Are we still considering Lauri Markkanen a lottery player? Right now, Draft Express has him at #7 to the Wolves, but I think he could end up sliding all the way down to the Nuggets at 13. I think the Wolves are a bit more enamored with Monk’s offense and BPA potential then drafting Markkanen because of his fit, and if that happens (or Minny trades out of the pick) the Knicks, Mavs, Kings, Hornets and Pistons all have bigger needs than a sharpshooting power forward.
Tony Xypteras: This is tough. With so much talent at the top of the draft, I’m having a hard time defining a ‘slide’. I suppose I’ll go with Josh Jackson. I thought he was the best player in college basketball last season, and if he falls to the Kings at #5, a scenario that isn’t totally unlikely, that would be a pretty shocking slide compared to where I thought he’d go a few months ago.
Aykis16: Malik Monk is probably a top 5 pick in most drafts, but not this one. I think he’ll end up falling out of the top 10. There’s too many guys that offer more upside and more consistency in this draft. He also strikes me as a player that some teams might consider a “super bench guy” rather than a star guard, and that’ll probably hurt his draft stock.
Which prospect, if any, is going to unexpectedly leapfrog players projected ahead of him?
Babygiraffe: I don’t see an Anthony Bennett-esque situation arising, but if Jonathan Isaac is snagged by Phoenix with the fourth pick, the Timberwolves might like the potential pairing of Zach Collins and Karl-Anthony Towns and grab the Gonzaga big man with the seventh overall pick. I think they’ll debate between Collins and Markkanen and take whichever big man fits their roster best.
Kevin Fippin: I have a feeling Frank Ntilikina is going to go higher than guards like Dennis Smith, Donovan Mitchell, and Malik Monk. DraftExpress has him getting selected at 14th now but I would expect teams to pull the trigger a bit earlier because of his size, shooting, and raw talent.
I know they don’t play the same position but I’d bet a lot of teams are worried about passing up on this year’s Antetokounmpo. Maybe it’s just me but the upside seems hard to ignore. Based on pure positional need alone, I could see the Magic taking him at 6 and the Mavericks are apparently primed to take him at 9 if he’s still around.
section214: I think that John Collins is a guy that could move into the lottery, and he has certainly not been a preferred flavor among the StR draft board participants. I could also see Lauri Markkanen taken before a few of the “consensus” top picks. And I could see Denver reaching at 13 for Isaiah Hartenstein or Anzejs Pacecniks.
W.Griffith: I think this year someone like OG Anunoby will jump up a bit further than we think. The league is trending smaller and to have a player of Anunoby’s athleticism and versatility sitting out there to experiment with? Draft boards have him floating down around in the late teen’s, early twenties, but I think his potential is going to be too much to be ignored. The kid has a real shot to be special, and while picking him more than a couple spots higher than his projections would be a riches-or-ruin maneuver, I think some GM is going to get cute and grab him as high as the Kings at 10 and pray he becomes a Draymond Green/Ron Artest amalgam.
Tony Xypteras: I’m going to try not to make every answer about the Sacramento Kings, but after having John Collins in for a second workout this week, I could see the Kings taking him at #10. Divac has a history of taking his guys regardless of draft position. He took Willie Cauley-Stein before anyone else would in 2015, he took Georgios Papagiannis before anyone else would in 2016, and if the Kings love Collins, I don’t think Vlade would hesitate to take him at #10.
Aykis16: Keep an eye on Terrance Ferguson, he’s currently projected to go 28th in DraftExpress’ latest mock but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him go much earlier to a team that needs an athletic, big shooting guard.
Who is going to be remembered as a bust and who will be discovered as a diamond in the rough from the 2017 draft?
Babygiraffe: Some poor team is going to reach for Ike Anigbogu in the mid-teens and be disappointed with his inability to translate to the league. He doesn’t have a single, definable skill other than his height, and I simply don’t see his value to the modern NBA. I would steer clear if I were an NBA team.
A second round prospect who I could see developing into a solid bench player is Jaron Blossomgame. He plays great all around defense, and while his shooting suffered this past season, he’s showed an ability to knock down the long-ball throughout his collegiate career. He’s a senior, so his ceiling isn’t as high as others, but I wouldn’t be shocked to see him hang around the league for a long time as solid role player.
Kevin Fippin: The player with the biggest bust potential has to be Jayson Tatum. One of the most talented players in the draft seems to also have the most questions about how he’ll perform at the next level. Is he a 3 or 4? Is he fast enough to get by his man in the NBA? Can he guard NBA small forwards? Does his iso-centric offensive style translate? This, combined with the fact that he’s most likely a top 4 pick, would seem to make him the easy money choice here.
On the flip side, I think Jonah Bolden and Frank Mason are popular choices to surprise in the 2nd round but I’m pretty fascinated with Semi Ojeleye. He projects as a late first, where the proverbial rough isn’t quite as thick, but he’s extremely versatile and has elite skills often reserved for the lottery types. The guy is strong as an ox, can defend both forward spots, and score from all over the floor.
section214: OK, my self-imposed rule for bust is that it has to be a top ten prospect from this draft class, given the depth of this group. If someone reaches for Zach Collins, he would become my leader in the dog house. I like De’Aaron Fox, but if he does not develop his shot there will be a huge group of players drafted after him that become better NBA players. If Dennis Smith’s attitude red flags are a result of playing in a bad program, well, welcome to the depths of the NBA, Dennis. OG Anunoby would be a good candidate, but he’s really not a top ten prospect. I’ll go with Collins, but if he’s not drafted in the top ten, I’ll default to Smith (though I would be OK with the Kings drafting him at #10, even if they draft a PG at #5.)
For diamond in the rough, Jawun Evans, Jordan Bell, Nigel Williams-Goss. Put me down for Goss having a Ronnie Price -type career when it’s all said and done.
W. Griffith: As much as I hate to say this, I think Jonathan Isaac could be the guy to bust in this draft. For every Giannis Antetokounmpo there are a dozen Donté Greenes, and while his length, shooting stroke and defensive potential are tantalizing, I think that Isaac and his rumored passive nature and small hands might keep him from erupting like a player of his potential should. Fit will be extremely important for him going forward, and if he ends up in a sub optimal or miscast role early on, I can see him ending up with the Small Forward equivalent of John Henson’s career arc.
I’m going to swing for the fence’s here and say that the diamond in the rough this year could be everyone’s favorite ‘What-If’ player; Harry Giles. Injuries have absolutely decimated his NBA Draft stock and as someone once thought to be a potential franchise player, Giles is a clean bill of health away from being at least an impact player in the NBA. Him staying healthy is a roll of the dice at this point, but I think that he has high Skal potential; a skilled big guy that everyone stayed away from because of a disappointing college career, but who finds their way into a situation to shine early on in their career. Obviously Skal’s issues were confidence based and not physical but if his knees ain’t poppin’, his hype train ain’t stoppin’.
Tony Xypteras: Jonathan Isaac is my ‘bust potential’ pick. This isn’t really a knock on Isaac, as I’d gladly take a chance on him, but it’s an easy selection simply because of how little he showed at Florida State last season. He’s the biggest unknown out of what I would consider the elite prospects in this draft. I was tempted to go with De’Aaron Fox, because without a working jumper it’s going to be very difficult for him to reach his full potential. Like others have stated, I think it’s improvable, but until it improves, it’s a real issue.
I love Caleb Swanigan. If the Kings manage to get him in the second round, I’d be one happy Kings fan.
Aykis16: Man, I really like a lot of these guys in the top 10 this year, but you know the odds say most of them aren’t going to make it. I think the safest bets for potential bust candidates are guys that can’t shoot. That puts De’Aaron Fox and Josh Jackson on my radar. While I really like both those players, shooting is more important than ever in today’s NBA, and they’ll really have to put in some work on their shots to fulfill their potential as true stars.
As for draft sleepers, I think Semi Ojeleye, Jawun Evans, Jordan Bell and Josh Hart are guys that people will be kicking themselves for not drafting earlier. I would love to see the Kings take any one of those guys at #34.
Will Sacramento trade up, trade back, or stay put in the lottery?
Babygiraffe: We’re going to see a ton of smoke surrounding our two lottery picks (looking at you Jordan Schultz) on draft night, but I believe the Kings will keep all three of their picks and will probably fight to acquire a late first rounder or mid second rounder to spend on another guard or wing prospect. There’s a chance that Los Angeles comes after our #10 spot, but I’m requiring Randle or Russell in return and that just might be too steep of a price for Magic to pay.
Kevin Fippin: While we’ll likely just make our three picks and call it a day, I’d love to see the Kings grab a couple more. Perhaps we flip that 10th pick for two later firsts or just outright buy a pick? Don’t care, just try to get in on this wealth of talent. There are just so many guys I’d like to take a flyer on in the late fist/early-mid second round.
section214: Fox, Ntilikina, Jordan Bell. Call it a night. If there are any deals to obtain additional picks, they will be for 2018 or beyond.
W. Griffith: I think we make our 5th pick, but wouldn’t be surprised at all if we manage a trade up to grab additional talent. Would it make sense to do a three team swap with Portland and the Magic/Wolves if Isaac is still on the board after the 5th. Kings could take on the Inevitable King Evan Turner and give up the 10th pick, Portland’s 15th and Koufos to get it done. Example: could the Magic/Wolves be convinced that adding Monk at 10, Justin Jackson at 15 and Koufos was superior to Jonathan Isaac at 6 or 7? I think we might see something like that, especially if something wild happens and a couple of unexpected players jump up into the top four.
Tony Xypteras: I think the Kings will stay at #5 and happily select whoever is available between Fox, Jackson, and Tatum. That #10 pick is a different story. I think the Kings do something interesting with that pick on draft night, particularly if they don’t land a point guard at #5. I’m looking at you, D’Angelo Russell.
Aykis16: I don’t see the Kings moving the #5 pick this year. That pick seems almost assuredly to be used on either Josh Jackson, De’Aaron Fox or Jayson Tatum (in that order). But I really don’t have a read on what the Kings want to do at #10. I know from listening to James Ham that Zach Collins had a really good workout, and we brought in John Collins twice, but neither of those guys really excite me. And if a guy like Malik Monk drops to us, would we take him even though we’d then have 73 shooting guards? I’d much rather trade the #10 for a proven young player like a D’Angelo Russell or Julius Randle and I think the Kings will explore doing just that.
Who is the one player that you don’t want the Kings to draft tomorrow night with the 5th pick?
Babygiraffe: Malik Monk. This isn’t a super realistic scenario, but any one of Fultz, Ball, Fox, Tatum, Isaac, Jackson, or Smith Jr. will make me a happy, happy giraffe. The Kings shouldn't try and get cute with this pick and do something out of the ordinary. I don’t think they’ll screw this up and there’s not really a player that I’ll be disappointed with out of that group.
Kevin Fippin: Unless the Kings dramatically overreach for a player at the 5 spot that they could have gotten at 10, there isn’t much they could do here that would upset me. I’m not a huge fan of Tatum’s style of play and I really don’t think we need a Malik Monk, but I’d get over it.
section214: Georgios Papagiannis.
Josh Jackson. At this juncture in the organization’s history, they really need to avoid drafting baggage at all costs. This team is going to be bad for awhile, and character has to count for something during this period.
W. Griffith: I don’t want the Kings deciding that the Malik Monk point guard experiment is worthy of their top 5 selection. Lauri Markkanen at 5 would be a disaster. Other than that, I’d be happy with any one out of Fultz, Ball, Jackson, Tatum, Fox, Smith Jr., or Isaac. Just show me you have a plan, execute the plan and Draft Night 2017 will be successful in my book.
Tony Xypteras: Maybe I’m naive, but I think the top-5 is pretty locked in, and the Kings will be selecting from the Jackson, Fox, Tatum trio - none of which would upset me.
I suppose that is my answer. If it’s anyone but Jackson, Fox, or Tatum, I’d be slightly-annoyed-to-very-upset, depending on who the pick is.
Aykis16: Anyone not named Markelle Fultz, Lonzo Ball, Josh Jackson, De’Aaron Fox, Jayson Tatum, Dennis Smith or Jonathan Isaac (that’s my order of preference as well). I think all of those guys are deserving of consideration at #5 and since at least three of those guys will be available, I’ll be upset if we pass on all three to draft someone else.
Who is one realistic player that you really want the Kings to draft tomorrow night with the 5th pick?
Babygiraffe: My heart says De’Aaron Fox and my head says Jonathan Isaac. In the end, I think the Suns take the former Seminole standout and Fox is the easy choice with our high lotto pick. Fox’s character, leadership, and defensive potential should be a great combination to lead the Kings for the next decade.
Kevin Fippin: I REALLY like De’Aaron Fox, his jumper concerns me, but he seems smart enough to figure out how to excel within his limitations. I’m also hopeful it’s an area of his game that he can improve in the long run. Having said that, if Josh Jackson is there when the Kings pick (and he won’t be) I’d love the Kings to take him.
section214: My order is Markelle Fultz, Lonzo Ball, Jayson Tatum, De’Aaron Fox, Jonathan Isaac. I would be happy with the best remaining player from that list. Tatum would probably be the highest player on that list that might reasonably still be available at #5.
W. Griffith: I’m lukewarm on De’Aaron Fox; his slender build and shooting woes scare the crap out of me. I think he ends up being our pick but I would be more than pleased to see Josh Jackson find his way to the Kings at 5. A small forward with his passing skills and defensive potential could be the ultimate plaything for Dave Joerger and his schemes. The unique blend of length and quickness and passing from the forward and center spots for the Kings could really be something special in a few years.
Tony Xypteras: I would say Josh Jackson in a heartbeat if he didn’t have the off court issues. As I’ve been saying, I think the realistic player pool we’re talking about here is Fox, Jackson, and Tatum. While Jackson will be the best player of the three, in my opinion, I’ll try and take Vlade at his word when he preaches chemistry, and a good locker room, and good role models, and say Fox here. It’s close, and I don’t think Fox is a sure-thing by any stretch, but his game, combined with his off-court personality and locker room leadership, gives him the nod from me.
Aykis16: I’m set on the Kings drafting De’Aaron Fox with the 5th pick. The only scenario I see where the Kings don’t draft Fox with the 5th pick is if Josh Jackson is available or if Fox gets taken before 5. I know Fox has his limitations and that shot scares me, but he seems like a hard worker and a really easy kid to root for.
If De'Aaron Fox isn't available with the fifth pick, should the Kings take Dennis Smith Jr, assuming he's available, or should they take a small forward prospect, say Jayson Tatum, if he’s sitting there?
Babygiraffe: I don’t see a huge gap in potential between Tatum and DSJ, so I’ll fill out our point guard need as it’s the most important position in today’s NBA. There’s always the opportunity to take a wing with the #10 like Anunoby or Justin Jackson, but the likelihood of a PG falling to that late in the lottery is almost non-existent.
Kevin Fippin: I feel like the Kings would get ripped for this despite the fact that everyone else passed on Tatum too, but I think i’d have to take Smith or even Ntilikina. If we’re faced with this situation the pg well is already getting pretty dry. Best to grab one early and see what can kind of wings are still around at 10.
section214: If Fox is gone, then give me the best remaining of Fultz, Ball, Tatum, Isaac (in that order). I have zero consideration for positional need for this team that is in such dire need of talent at virtually every position. If ever there was a team that should not be drafting for with a focus on positional need, it’s your Sacramento Kings.
W. Griffith: I’m with Tim and Kevin on this one. Grab Dennis Smith Jr. or stretch for Ntilikina and grab your project SF at 10.
Tony Xypteras: Play it safe, Vlade. Please. If Fox is gone, take Jackson or Tatum.
Aykis16: If Fox isn’t at 5, that likely means one or more of Jackson, Tatum or Ball are available. All of those guys are higher on my list than Smith right now.
Lauri Markkanen, OG Anunoby, Donovan Mitchell, and Justin Jackson are available with the 10th selection. Who are you taking?
Babygiraffe: Each player has major concerns and/or holes in his game and part of my decision would probably be based on who I took at #5. Markkanen is a one trick pony, but he’s really, really good at that trick, Anunoby has injury concerns and offensive holes, Mitchell is a question mark when it comes to fit, and Jackson is an older prospect with probably the lowest ceiling. In the end, I would lean towards OG. His defensive potential is off the charts and I would love to see the impact he could make under Dave Joerger. At worst, I believe he becomes a Tony Allen or Marcus Smart type player and you can’t go wrong with that.
Kevin Fippin: This kind of goes against conventional wisdom and it’s definitely why you shouldn’t hire me to run your team, but i’d probably base it more on the player I selected 5th than the tried and true BPA. If I took a SF 5th then i’m looking at Mitchell first and going from there. If we end up drafting De’Aaron Fox with the 5th pick and this is who’s available at 10, I’d start trying to surround Fox with shooters by taking Markkanen.
section214: Markkanen is #10 on my list right now, so he would be the choice. I would not quibble if it wound up being Donovan Mitchell.
W. Griffith: I basically already discussed this above, but I wouldn’t have a problem if the Kings were the team to roll the dice on OG Anunoby. He’s oozing potential, especially on the defensive end, and the Dave Joerger and Staff development staff could have a field day with his development. Imagining a hyper-athletic Ron Artest with a penchant for posterizing his opponents, alongside fully realized Willie and Skal, with a Dave Joerger led defensive team? The speed, passing and defensive potential would be must see basketball. Yeah, I’m good with that.
Tony Xypteras: Markkanen. As the draft approaches, Markannen is at the top of my ‘most realistic options at #10 wish list’. I don’t love anyone projected to be available at #10, but Markkanen gives the Kings something they don’t have at an elite level, outside shooting from the frontcourt. I also think, assuming Fox is the selection at #5, being able to surround a point guard with questionable outside shooting with two sharpshooters in Buddy Hield and Lauri Markkanen will really open up his ability to get to the paint. I like the fit.
Aykis16: I’m really unexcited about the options at #10. I’m actually kind of hoping that either Dennis Smith or Frank Ntilikina falls there and we take them even if we already took De’Aaron Fox at 5. But of the guys you chose I’m going to go with Markkanen. He does something our other bigs don’t do, and might be one of the best shooters in the draft.
The 34th pick is a cost effective wildcard for the Kings. What’s your dream scenario with our second rounder?
Babygiraffe: Frank Mason has played with our heart strings and Jordan Bell would be a really good selection, but I think Jawun Evans has the chance to be a solid bench scorer and distributor. He’s projected to go anywhere in the late first or early second round, but even if the Kings take a point guard with one of their lottery picks, I would still love to see him in a Sacramento uniform next year.
Kevin Fippin: I’m in love with Frank Mason III and I don’t care who knows it!
section214: I’ve become enamored of Jordan Bell a bit. I just think that he could wind up being a good bench contributor. That said, I also think that Nigel Williams-Goss could be a better version of Ray McCallum in Dave Joerger’s system. Dream scenario? Jawun Evans drops to 34. A flyer on Harry Giles would be OK with me as well.
W. Griffith: Dream scenario? Kings trade the pick to a playoff team with their eye on someone for a low future first rounder. I think we’ll find a way to have 3 first round picks before the second round anyways, and having extra shots in the first round in the future would just be good asset management. Realistically? Let’s see what Dillon Brooks out of Oregon can do.
Tony Xypteras: My dream scenario is Harry Giles, but I don’t think he’ll drop to the second round, so I’m rooting for Caleb Swanigan here. I’d be perfectly happy with Juwan Evans, or Frank Mason.
Aykis16: My dream scenario with our second rounder is we use it with the #10 pick to move up a little bit and get Dennis Smith or Ntilikina if we took Josh Jackson or Jayson Tatum at 5. However if you’re just talking about if we keep it, I refer you back to my draft sleeper answer: Semi Ojeleye, Jawun Evans, Jordan Bell or Josh Hart.
Give your final selections. Assuming no trades take place, who will Vlade Divac and Scott Perry (and maybe Vivek Ranadive) select with the 5th, 10th, and 34th picks?
Babygiraffe: De’Aaron Fox (Phoenix is taking Isaac), Malik Monk, Frank Mason III
Kevin Fippin: Fox, Markkanen, Mason III
section214: Fox, Ntilikina, Bell. “And maybe Vivek Ranadivé” version: Terrance Ferguson, Ivan Rabb, Kennedy Meeks.
W. Griffith: De’Aaron Fox, OG Anunoby, George De Paula
Tony Xypteras: De’Aaron Fox, Zach Collins, and Frank Mason
Aykis16: De’Aaron Fox, John Collins, Jawun Evans