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NBA Draft Roundtable: Final Thoughts Before the Plunge

We asked our staff to make some final predictions.

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It’s finally here. The wait is over. We have suffered through a year of Zach Randolph-led tanking, watched other teams compete in the playoffs for the last two months, and our lungs are blackened from the unrelenting smokescreens that we have endured in the 37 days after the draft lottery. Kings fans have doubled up their high-blood pressure medication, invested in copious amounts of Rogaine from all of the gray hairs that have sprouted, and our family lives rest in shambles due to the constant stress of this pick.

Remember when we thought moving up five spots would be fun? We don’t either.

The STR crew has gathered together, at least those of us still on speaking terms, to provide one last level-headed debate before the insanity of the next 10 hours ensues. Let’s get to the questions.

Who should the Kings select with the second overall pick?

Tim: Luka Doncic

Richard: Luka Doncic

Tony: Luka Doncic

Bryant: Take the best player in the draft. That’s Luka Doncic.

Omer: The most accomplished draft prospect since Anthony Davis, that's Luka Dončić

Akis: Me, because that guaranteed multi-million dollar contract would be pretty swell. Failing that, I guess Luka Doncic.

Greg: Luka, in accordance with the prophecy.

If the Front Office passes on Luka Doncic, do you prefer Michael Porter Jr. or Marvin Bagley III?

Tim: I waffle back and forth with this choice, mostly because I think both will be huge mistakes compared to Luka. If Sacramento passes on Doncic, and he turns out to be a star, I will have a very hard time rooting for the team, especially if whoever we choose is a bust. There’s only so much forgiveness in one giraffe. In the end, although Porter Jr. has a much higher ceiling than Bagley, I’ll take the security of a player who I know can stay healthy, and who will likely be an above-average starter for the majority of his career.

Richard: It’s Bagley for me, and pretty comfortably so. Perhaps I’m being overly cautious, but I’m just terrified about MPJ’s back. That combined with Bagley’s enthusiasm for potentially being a King is enough for me.

Tony: I’ll go Bagley, but I don’t feel particularly confident about it. Porter could be the better player somewhere down the line, but I can’t justify taking that sort of gamble with the 2nd overall pick. If the Kings traded down and took Porter, I can live with that outcome, but at #2? Bagley is the safer play, and the Kings can’t afford a miss here.

Bryant: Porter. There are definitely things to be worried about with Porter—both in his game and in his medicals—but if the Kings were in the 3-4 range, he’d be my preferred logical outcome (since Jaren Jackson Jr. doesn’t apparently exist). I’m more worried about fitting Bagley and his weaknesses into a team construct than I am with Porter.

Omer: Like all of the guys above, I’ve gone back and forth. I think I’d go with Porter Jr. His handle and back scare me, but big wings who can shoot are the future of the NBA. Bagley’s lack of skills hasn't convinced me that his success isn't due to him being bigger and faster than everyone else, which is scary because he won't be at the next level. Porter comes with his own risks but he's worth the gamble if healthy.

Akis: I’ve gone back and forth on this so many times since the lottery. In an ideal world, I think it’s Michael Porter Jr. But Porter Jr.’s back is a big red flag to me and I don’t think I can trust it. I also think Bagley is going to be a good player, with a higher floor than some people think and a real high ceiling if he can expand his game on both ends of the court.

Greg: Bagley. Not because I like his game better, but Porter’s health is just too big of a risk.

What will the Kings do with the 37th selection: draft a player, stash someone, or trade the pick?

Tim: There’s a pretty solid chance that the Kings move the 37th pick. Roster spots are at a premium with so many veterans returning, and there are already a ton of young bodies to develop for the coaching staff. If they do end up keeping the second rounder, Jevon Carter is my favorite target. He’s a clear upgrade from Mason and has a toughness that is sorely lacking on the roster.

Richard: We will sell the pick to Golden State. Just kidding... the Kings could stand to add another pure point guard to this roster, so if Jevon Carter is there then I believe he is the right choice. I’m not sure we have anyone capable of playing plus defense against an opposing 1. Carter could be that guy.

Tony: I’m all the way in favor of drafting a foreign prospect at #37. The Kings don’t really have the roster space or playing time to add another young player to the mix this season, particularly a second round guy where actually making it in the NBA is no guarantee. Rodions Kurucs would be my favorite stash candidate, but if the Kings do go after someone who might play in the NBA next season, I like Kostas Antetokounmpo and (I can’t believe I’m saying this out loud) Grayson Allen.

Bryant: If Vlade makes any moves or thinks he can consolidate the roster to fit a second round prospect on the team, Jevon Carter, Moritz Wagner, or Bruce Brown are all guys I think could fill solid roles for this team. Also, I vote to ban Tony for that last comment.

Omer: I’d say stash the pick. The Kings have a lot of young guys to the point where adding another roleplayer-level talent doesn't help them.

Akis: All the news has been about the 2nd pick that I haven’t even given the 37th pick that much thought. It’s also kind of a weird year because the Kings probably don’t necessarily want yet another rookie on a roster full of young guys. However, there are a few prospects that I feel you have to take if they’re there at 37. I really like Jevon Carter, and Jalen Brunson is pretty good too. Rawle Alkins and Moritz Wagner seem like decent options too. However, I’m not opposed to using this on a draft-and-stash. I would hate if we just sold the pick though.

Greg: I’d guess it’s either traded or use on a stash pick. Unless some other trade happens during the draft, I’m not sure the Kings have a roster spot for a second rounder right now.

Will Vlade pull the trigger on any trades tonight? If so, who will be included?

Tim: The Front Office needs to be aggressive over the next few months, and that includes tonight. Even if a guard or wing is taken, there is a glut of non-productive big men on the depth chart. I expect one of Willie Cauley-Stein and Skal Labissiere to be moved, alongside one of the veterans, likely Iman Shumpert or Zach Randolph, as an attractive expiring contract for a cap-strapped team. Washington, Denver, Memphis, Charlotte and Portland all have picks in an attractive range for a rebuilding team, as well as bad salary that needs to come off of the books as soon as possible. The Kings will likely be included in a myriad of trade rumors throughout the day and as we approach the actual selections.

Richard: I would have to guess that they won’t. It’s not a very exciting prediction but the Kings are in a great spot tonight, and my gut tells me they take the best players they can at the position they are currently in.

Tony: Before the lottery, I was head-over-heels in basketball love with Miles Bridges. For reasons I cannot for the life of me understand, he appears to be sliding into the late lottery and I would love to see the Kings capitalize on everyone else’s mistake. I don’t think Denver is going to dump #14 if a team takes on the last year of Kenneth Faried’s contract like some NBA insiders have reported this month, but if the Kings can sweeten the pot by sending back someone like Willie Cauley-Stein, Frank Mason, or Skal Labissiere? I’m all over that. Miles Bridges is good.

Bryant: I’m not expecting Sacramento chaos after Silver names the Kings picks. I expect one of Willie Cualey-Stein or Skal Labissiere are traded by early July, but I don’t think that happens today. If the Kings make a move, it’ll be to trade the 2nd round pick.

Omer: There is a good chance that once the draft starts unfolding that opportunities will start presenting themselves. Right now with the draft so wide open, everyone is afraid to make a move because nobody knows who will be available. Vlade has historically been active trading during the draft, having traded down twice in the last two years, so I’d expect to see something, especially with the volume of young players on the roster. I'd expect one of Justin Jackson, Skal Labissiere, or Willie Cauley-Stein to be traded.

Akis: At this point I’d be pretty surprised if they did any trade involving the 2nd pick but I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Kings try to get in on some of the action in another trade, especially if someone they like falls or if a deal’s there. Draft day trades have kind of been a thing for this front office, so expect anything.

Greg: I’d be more surprised by a lack of trades. I’d say Willie Cauley-Stein is the most likely to be involved.

What is one non-Kings prediction you would like to make?

Tim: The Orlando Magic move back from the 6th pick and select Trae Young at 12 and Miles Bridges at 13 after executing a trade with the Clippers. Los Angeles takes Michael Porter Jr.

Richard: Michael Porter Jr. will fall to the Bulls at pick 7.

Tony: Danny Ainge is going to do something, and a lot of opposing GMs are going to look stupid tomorrow morning as a result.

Bryant: Off the top of my synapsesTrae Young will go in the top 7, the Sixers will take Mikal Bridges as the last huge add in their ascendance, the Lakers snag De’Anthony Melton, and the Clippers will not make a trade.

Omer: I’d keep an eye on the Spurs. If Kawhi really does want out and that relationship is beyond fixing, they might start shifting into rebuild mode and start acquiring more picks and young talent. I predict that they will try to move into the top ten.

Akis: The Clippers will trade at least one of their lottery picks (#12 and #13).

Greg: The Cavs will trade out of the 8th pick.

Final question. Who will Adam Silver announce as the second overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft?

Tim: I have not doubted The Prophecy up until this point and I shan’t start now. Luka Doncic.

Richard: I see the appeal of Bagley. I really do. But I think good sense and a little bit of divine intervention will win the day. Welcome home, Luka.

Tony: I’m worried about all the voices in the Kings front office and ownership group deterring Vlade Divac from picking the player he wants, but when it comes down to it, this is Divac’s job and this is his pick to make, for better or worse, and I think his pick is Luka Doncic.

Bryant: Luka Doncic. I think in the end, the Kings take the best player available.

Omer: I just can't see Vlade passing on Luka Dončić, and I do think Vivek trusts Vlade to make the pick. Vivek has had every opportunity to toss Vlade to the curb but has stuck with him. It'll be Vlade’s man through and through.

Akis: I still think the Kings will take Marvin Bagley III with this pick. I’d like it to be otherwise, but unless the Kings have been smokescreening like crazy, they’ve never seemed super high on Luka.

Greg: I want to say Doncic, but years of suffering tells me to expect Bagley.