Despite not having a 1st round pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, the Kings have been busy; they’ve worked out 36 players, a number that will likely double as we get closer to June 20th. With three second rounders—the 40th, 47th, and 60th overall selections—the Kings are casting a large scouting net this year. And as ESPN’s Jonathan Givony pointed out, there’s a larger pool of underclass talent to scout this year than in previous draft classes.
17 college seniors and international players are currently projected to be drafted according to our latest forecast, leaving 43 spots for NCAA underclassmen. It appears that around 100 underclassmen will leave their names in the draft. Some folks will be disappointed on June 20th— Jonathan Givony (@DraftExpress) May 29, 2019
It’s utter folly to try and predict how the 2nd round of any draft (especially this one) will go, but a decent number of the players the Kings have worked out will end up being undrafted free agents and/or summer league tryouts. Still, there are a couple bigger names that deserve extra attention.
Isaiah Roby is the best prospect the Kings have worked out so far. The bouncy Nebraska Cornhusker has the length (7’1 wingspan), footspeed, and hops to make him a promising swing forward, even if his inconsistencies as a shooter (33% from deep this season on 84 attempts, and 29.7% on all jump shots in the half-court, per Synergy Sports) might keep him from being a real answer on the wing. But if you’re questioning his athletic ability, well...
Roby’s best on offense when he can get a straight line to the basket, and he’d thrive in Sacramento’s fast pace, grab-the-ball-and-freaking-go system. If his shot ever moves from meh to acceptable, he could fit a huge need for the Kings roster that’s still devoid of forward talent.
The biggest allure for Roby is his abilities on the defensive end, where he was just one of four players this season to snag 40 steals and 60 blocks (the list includes noted defensive titans Brandon Clarke and Matisse Thybulle). He’s active and a quick help defender, and assuming he builds on the 214 pounds he weighed at the combine, he could provide a switchable bench defender... something the Kings desperately need more of.
Tacko Fall is the biggest name the Kings have worked out, which is fitting for a 7’7 giant. Through the combination of his size and awesome name, he’s garnered a ton of attention for a fringe-2nd round player. With a 10’2” standing reach, he’s the life-size version of our 10-year-old selfs when we played with a nerf hoop on our bedroom doors. His 8’2.25” wingspan (longest on record since Manute Bol, 8’6”) is a half-foot longer than fellow-combine attendee Bol Bol (Manute’s son), who finished at 7’7. Look up at that absurd picture above; he’s more than a foot taller than this class’ generational talent. At some level, that height is going to be a benefit for an NBA team—that upside was captured in these back-to-back plays against Zion Williamson and Duke in the NCAA tournament.
The downsides to Fall are stark; he’s not an NBA-level athlete and would be left in the dust on both ends of the court. At some level, his length will compensate for this—and experts noted that Fall’s athletic testing at the combine exceeded expectations (the Athletic’s Sam Vecinie says that Fall has grown from “being a non-athlete to merely a below-average one”)—but it’s key to point out that from the last ten years of combine results, only Jared Sullinger had a slower 3⁄4 court sprint time (3.8) than Tacko (3.78). Whatever level of competition he plays, teams will try to get Tacko into space until he proves he’s quick and cerebral enough to handle it.
There’s also the question of what to do with him on offense. Watch this play from the tournament contest against Duke.
Fall is not a skilled player. In this one play, we see his poor hands (2.9 turnovers per 40 and a 17.2% turnover rate, vast improvements over his 4.8 per 40 and 25% rate from 2017-18), his general lack of coordination, and the absence of real post instincts. There’s no way Duke’s Javin DeLaurier (6’10) should have been able to block that shot, except Fall basically did the work for him. And it gets worse when defenses collapse on Fall; when he gets double-teamed in the post, Fall turns the ball over 30% of the time, per Synergy. The final and biggest concern is Fall’s 43.2% clip from the free throw stripe—even with the newer efforts to curtail intentional fouls, what’s the offensive value of a put-back focused big if he’s going to be Wacko-Tacko-ed every time he’s on the court in the not-last-two-minutes of a quarter?
Taking Fall with that 60th pick isn’t a bad outcome for the Kings—I’m not sure even the Kings could KANGZ up a 60th overall pick—but Fall wouldn’t be the 3rd big the Kings are looking for to build around Marvin Bagley and Harry Giles. He’d provide some needed rim protection skills, but he’s a situational big in a league that loves attacking players with his weaknesses.
Dedric Lawson is another relevant name; the 6’8” All-American was the MVP and key stabilizing force for an unstable Kansas team. Lawson’s abilities as a low-post scorer (19.4 PPG), glass cleaner (10.3 RPG), and range (39.3% on 89 three point attempts) helped the Jayhawks weather both the midseason losses of Udoka Azubuike (injury) and Lagerald Vick (personal reasons).
He’s got length (7’2 wingspan) to cover up for only-ok size for a power forward (6’7 without shoes), but if he doesn’t get drafted, it will be because he’s a below-average NBA athlete; his 3⁄4 court sprint, shuttle run, and vertical leap tests were all near the bottom of the combine, and he actually has a lower max-vertical (26”) than Tacko (26.5”). Without great instincts defensively, there’s a big question as to how he’ll defend at the NBA level.
Some other interesting players or tidbits from the Kings workouts include:
- Jaylen Hoard became the first one-and-done player in Wake Forest’s history. The 6’9” forward is a fluid and bouncy athlete, and posted an impressive 13.1 PPG and 7.4 RPG in his freshman season. But he’s a longer-term upside play, as his shot hasn’t yet materialized—he shot just 23.8% on all half-court jumpshots this season, per Synergy, and sank just 22.6% of his 53 three point attempts.
- Through their workouts so far, the Kings have mainly scouted guards, stretch bigs (Roby, Lawson), and centers (Fall and Duke’s Marques Bolden). The Kings have surprisingly only worked out a handful of players who could be considered traditional small forwards; Hoard, V.J. King (Louisville), and Dean Wade (Kansas State) remained in the draft, while Lamar Stevens (Penn State) and Yoeli Childs (BYU) returned to school. It’ll be key to see how the Kings handle their workout invites now that the draft class is set, but their early workouts support the idea that Sacramento believes their biggest needs are backup guards and bigs.
- The Kings have worked out 36 players, including 11 collegiate players who had left school after their senior seasons. Of the 25 underclassmen, only 10—Armoni Brooks (Houston), Aubrey Dawkins (UCF), Amir Hinton (Shaw University), Amir Coffey (Minnesota), Roby, Fall, Lawson, Bolden, King, and Hoard have kept their names in the draft. The rest returned to to school.
- If you want a easy-to-read way to compare expert draft boards, our buddy Brett Huff has continued his awesome chart.
ESPN and Sam Vecenie posted some updates to their draft boards post-withdrawal deadline. Players the Kings have/will work out are underlined. Their rank when sorted by my weight formula:— Brett Huff (@bretthuff22) May 30, 2019
Isaiah Roby: 38
Jaylen Hoard: 53
Dedric Lawson: 56 pic.twitter.com/uxYvFjdSBX