You’re more likely to draft an All-Star in picks 1-5 than you are in picks 6-10. That’s not up for debate, that’s simply the facts. But of course there are always the exceptions to the rule. With the Kings currently slotted to draft 7th, there’s been some arguments that it’s ok and that the Kings can still get a great player even if they don’t move up in the lottery.
After all, every draft has a Dejounte Murray or a Donovan Mitchell, right?
The problem is that there is no reason to believe the Kings possess the talent evaluation necessary to discover those gems. The Kings passed on Donovan Mitchell twice, opting instead to trade back in the draft because they weren’t in love with anyone at 10. Instead they traded down for picks 15 and 20. 20 became Harry Giles, and perhaps he’ll be the gem that proves me wrong. But the 15th pick was Justin Jackson.
Jackson is a nice player and I think he’ll have a nice role in the league despite his rookie struggles. But wouldn’t that pick have been better spent on OG Anunoby or Jarrett Allen? Those are the types of gems we’re counting on Vlade Divac to find, but there’s no evidence to suggest that faith will be rewarded.
For more proof, let’s go back to the 2016 draft. The trade back from 8 was a win because the Kings got Bogdan Bogdanovic. But using the 13th pick on Georgios Papagiannis instead of Malik Beasley or Caris LeVert or Malcolm Brogdon or Dejounte Murray was a massive blunder. And perhaps it’s unfair to point to Brogdon or Murray, but again those are the type of gems you want your GM to find if you’re counting on the Kings ability to find value outside the top 5.
Not only is there no evidence to suggest the Kings are capable of finding value, there’s ample evidence of Sacramento’s ability to pass on it. The best argument that Vlade can find late value is Skal Labissiere, but after his second season he’s yet to show us anything more than occasional flashes of promise.
Kings fans should be hoping to move up in the draft lottery. If not, Kings fans shouldn’t expect that the Kings will stumble upon a superstar with the seventh pick.