Most of our attention on the upcoming NBA Draft for the Sacramento Kings has been spent on the no. 12 pick, considering that is the team’s best chance of finding another generational talent to pair with De’Aaron Fox and potentially Marvin Bagley III moving forward. But the Kings also have three second-rounders in their war chest this year, one of which is actually quite promising.
Given the high salary first-round picks command, there is an argument to be made that early second-round picks can have similar value to late first-rounders given the flexibility teams have with the contracts. There’s also so much more talent coming into the NBA from around the world, allowing teams to find real contributors through the top 40 picks.
The Kings currently have the no. 35 pick in the 2020 NBA Draft via a 2016 draft-day trade with Phoenix that netted them the no. 13 and no. 28 pick in that draft as well as the rights to Bogdan Bogdanovic and this future second-rounder. Those firsts became Georgios Papagiannis and Skal Labissière, but Bogdanovic alone has been much better than the no. 8 pick Sacramento sent away, Marquese Chriss.
The 35th pick has produced some good talent in recent years, including (in reverse chronological order) Draymond Green, Nemanja Bjelica, DeAndre Jordan, Glen Davis, PJ Tucker, and Carlos Boozer. The Kings unfortunately haven’t had much luck at this spot historically, selecting Tyler Honeycutt in 2011 and Michael Smith in 1994.
But this is a new year and a new front office, so let’s see who the mock drafts have the Kings picking at no. 35.
ESPN: Tyler Bey (F), Colorado
Bey is 22 and played three years in college, so he’s less of an upside pick and more of a plug-and-play contributor. He’s an excellent on-ball defender and shot blocker, and should be able to immediately add value to an NBA defense, aided by his 7’1 wingspan. He averaged 13.8 points and 9.0 rebounds for the Buffaloes last season while shooting 74.3 percent from the foul line and connecting on 13-of-31 3-pointers.
The Athletic: Tre Jones (G), Duke
Jones was a two-year starter at point guard for Duke, shepherding a star-studded team of Zion Williamson, RJ Barrett, and Cam Reddish his freshman year before becoming more of an offensive focal point as a sophomore on a Blue Devil roster devoid of first-round picks. Jones averaged 16.2 points, 6.4 assists, and 4.2 rebounds per game in his second season while improving his 3-point shooting percentage to 36.1. He’s a tough guard who still makes his bones on the defensive end — unlike his brother Tyus, who is a better passer — and has a knack for making winning plays. Jones’ deliberate missed free throw against UNC in a rivalry game earlier this season is a must watch.
Sports Illustrated: Tre Jones (G), Duke
Bleacher Report: Jordan Nwora (F), Louisville
Nwora averaged 17.0 points and 7.6 rebounds per game as a sophomore and proved it was no fluke by putting up 18.0 points and 7.7 rebounds per game in his junior year. He’s a particularly interesting prospect since he shot 81.3 percent from the foul line and 40.2 percent on threes in 2019-20. As Jonathan Wasserman put it in his mock draft:
As a 6’7 forward, consecutive years with at least 75 made threes should help Nwora earn first-round looks for his shot-making.
CBS Sports: Zeke Nnaji (F), Arizona
Here’s what Gary Parrish has to say about 6’11, 240-pound 19-year-old in his mock draft:
Zeke Nnaji was only a borderline top-40 prospect coming out of high school — but he emerged as the biggest surprise of Arizona’s freshman class. He averaged 16.1 points and a team-high 8.6 rebounds while establishing himself as Sean Miller’s most productive player.
Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer calls Nnaji a “fluid athlete who has all the tools to be an effective two-way big, though his defense needs to develop.”
These mock drafts have the Kings all over the map in terms of what position they will target, but one common thread appears to be consistently solid college production. That should help Sacramento get a contributor right out of the gate.
Who do you think would be a good fit for the Kings here?