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NBA Draft 2019: Guards and Bigs, Bigs and Guards

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With less than two weeks to go before the 2019 NBA Draft, the Kings are giving us strong clues about their priorities for their three 2nd round draft picks.

Iowa v Tennessee Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

With less than two weeks to go before the 2019 NBA Draft, the Sacramento Kings are giving us strong clues about their priorities for their three 2nd round draft picks. Since my draft profile last week, they’ve worked out 30 more players—16 are guards, 11 are bigs, and only three are what I consider traditional small forwards. Plenty will change between now and June 20, but the Kings focus continues to be on scouting guards and bigs to bulk up their bench. Through their four workouts this week, there are quite a few names that deserve real attention:

Justin Robinson is an speedster point who helped direct Virginia Tech to three straight NCAA Tournament bids. He missed 11 games this season with a toe injury that hampered him into March, but he can get down the court in a hurry, something we know the Kings value in their floor leaders. He’s also a dead-eye shooter who finished his career with 151 made threes on 38.5% shooting. While he was most comfortable working as the floor general next to Nickeil Alexander-Walker (a 1st round pick candidate) and Kerry Blackshear Jr., Robinson also showed he could heat up—against Syracuse, Robinson had 35 points and 8 assists on 9-13 from distance.

He finished the season averaging 5 assists per game with a 34.5% assist rate, but his 1.78/1 assist-to-turnover ratio is less than stellar. Still, he’s got nice court vision, and could provide an NBA squad with solid backup minutes.

Zach Norvell Jr. from Gonzaga is arguably the best guard prospect the Kings have worked out, and he’d offer Sacramento combo-guard skills and another proven shooter. While Rui Hachimura and Brandon Clarke were the Zag’s top scorers, Norvell provided much needed gravity on the offensive end, shooting 37% on 262 three point attempts. He’s not a individual creator at this stage in his career, but thrived as a catch-and-shoot bomber who’d break through slumps by continuing to shoot with confidence. Still, he’s somewhat of a streaky player, evidenced by a brutal run to end the season when he averaged 9.6 points on 27% shooting in the Zag’s last 5 games.

While Norvell played as the off-guard next to Josh Perkins (who the Kings also worked out), he had a role as a secondary playmaker—4.1 assists per 40 minutes, and a 2.15/1 assist-to-turnover ratio—and could be more of a combo guard in the NBA. He fits the mold of the guards Sacramento has been eying; above-average shooter, solid ball-handler, and positional versatility.

Arizona State redshirt senior Zylan Cheatham doesn’t have some of the proven skills possessed by other bigs the Kings have worked out. He reworked his jumpshot after transfering to the Sun Devils, and while that 44% mark from three looks good on paper, it was only on 25 attempts; per Synergy, he shot just 26% on all jump shots in the half court. He’s also not a dynamic rim protector—only 1.0 blocks per 40 minutes—and while he’s a capable help-defender who can fly into the picture at a moment’s notice, he’s not likely to become the anchor of a defense.

So why is he worth the next 5 paragraphs? Well... check out these handles and see if this reminds you of a player archetype Sacramento has favored recently.

Cheatham’s crafty dribble and smooth footwork makes him a real grab-and-go threat. What makes his handle more dangerous is that he’s a solid, aware passer who often makes good decisions when he’s controlling the ball. His usage rate was a solid 20%, impressive considering he only averaged 7.9 shots per game; he earned the ball because he proved he could make things happen with it. He finished the season with 3.9 assists per 40 (albeit with 3.7 turnovers per 40). He was most impressive in transition, and per Synergy he was in the 91st percentile for transition points per possession when you consider both made baskets and completed assists, while sporting a 2.1/1 assist-to-turnover ratio in transition.

Cheatham is also a hyper-determined rebounder; against Arizona in late January, Zylan finished with 22 rebounds and 11 points.

He’s also a versatile defensive player and has the quickness and length to potentially contain an array of forwards (and some taller guards) that the Kings have struggled with in recent years. And there’s no doubting that he has the hops and physicality to break into the NBA if he continues to develop.

Cheatham was not invited to the NBA Combine, but participated in the G League Combine and was lauded for his effort and defensive play. Combine that with his give-and-go ability, and it makes sense why Sacramento wanted a closer look at him. He’s got the feel of a Vlade Divac sneaky selection.

Sophomore Kris Wilkes was the Bruins best player this season, averaging 17.4 points and 4.8 rebounds a contest. He was primarily used as a spot-up shooter, but his career numbers from deep (34.3% on 364 attempts in his two years at UCLA) aren’t spectacular. He was also a mediocre-at best defender on most nights, which was a shared issue across the UCLA roster from the beginning of the season on through Steve Alford’s firing. Perhaps Wilkes has real NBA talent masked behind the UCLA chaos of the last two seasons, as he’s certainly got the size (nearly 6’8 in shoes), length (6’11 wingspan), and athleticism of an NBA player.

Brian Bowen spent the season playing with Andrew Bogut and the Sydney Kings. He was a five star recruit in the class of 2017, but his illegibility for college ball was destroyed when his father and Adidas associates discussed a payment plan to get Bowen to play at Louisville. He spent the 2017-18 season hoping to regain college eligibility, but that never happened—finally, he opted for a chance with the Australian NBL in hopes that it would prepare him for the 2019 draft. It’s hard to properly armchair scout Bowen’s time in Sydney—he played just 15.4 minutes per game while shooting 45% from the field and 34% from distance—but with his five-star athleticism, the workings of a real shooting ability, good size and length (6’7.5 with a 6’10 wingspan), and an ignited determination to prove he belongs (h/t to the Athletic’s Sam Vecinie), Bowen is an alluring prospect with significant upside.

Terence Davis is a do-it-all guard from Old Miss; he can shoot (37% from deep on 175 attempts this season, and 73rd percentile for all jump shots in the half-court), run as a secondary play-maker (4.5 assists per 40), and play tenacious defense (3% steal rate and 2.1 thefts per 40). Despite playing four years for the Rebels, he’s only 22, and his excellent quickness and length (6’9 wingspan) grant him defensive range beyond his size (6’4). Despite not being originally invited to the G League Elite Camp OR the NBA Combine, he ended up working out at both, and has since worked out for at least 7 squads, including Sacramento.

And finally, Jordan Bone is my favorite of the point guards the Kings have worked out. He’s an hyper-athletic demon who can bust out smooth moves to create space, but his explosiveness and electric running ability weren’t always on full display in Tennessee’s middle-of-the-road pace. Take a look at his combine stats; he was first in lane agility, shuttle run, and standing vertical leap, second in max vertical, and fourth in three-quarter sprint. If he goes to a team that prefers to run, run, run, I expect he’ll become a solid bench guard who can shoot, take advantage in transition, and generally make the right decisions with the ball.

He wasn’t a traditional primary initiator for the Volunteers—a lot of the time, that was Grant Williams, who ran the offense from the high/mid post—but Bone still finished with an impressive 7.1 assists per 40 (30.3% assist rate) and a 2.9/1 assist-to-turnover ratio for one of the better offensive teams in the country. Playing alongside Williams also showcased Bone’s ability as a off-ball shooter; he shot 44.8% on catch-and-shoot shots in the half court (116 attempts), good for 88th percentile in the nation. His deep shot was rough to start the season, as he made just 23% of his threes in November and December, but in 2019 he sank 41% of 95 attempts. His shot selection wasn’t always great (he overly favors mid-range shots), but he’s got the foundation to be a solid shooter who can play both on and off the ball. Given that the Kings have a few non-point initiators coming off the bench—Bogdan Bogdanovic and Harry Giles—bringing in a backup point who can also play off the ball seems like a smart move for Sacramento. I expect it’ll take time for Bone to adjust to playing against guys nearly as fast as him physically/as fast as him mentally, but snagging Bone to play behind (and sometimes with) DeAaron Fox is one of my favorite draft outcomes.