Welcome to the Sactown Royalty Offseason Preview! Every day this week, we’ll tackle one position. We’ll go over what the Kings have and what they could use at that spot, and how they they can address those needs via free agency or the draft. Today, we finish with the power forwards.
Who do the Kings have?
Last season, the Kings had six players who played more than half of their minutes at power forward, according to Basketball Reference: Harrison Barnes, Nemanja Bjelica, Corey Brewer, Wenyen Gabriel, Jabari Parker and Anthony Tolliver. Of those six players, only three of them will be under contract with the Kings next season, including Bjelica, whose $7.1 million salary is non-guaranteed.
No more log jam for the Kings at the four, right? Not exactly.
On Monday night, the Kings acquired Ersan Ilyasova in the sign-and-trade that sent Bogdan Bogdanovic to the Milwaukee Bucks. Ilyasova played 85 percent of his minutes at the four last season, and that’s unlikely to change.
It’s unlikely that Ilyasova and Bjelica will start the season on the Kings roster because they have similar skillsets, but if they do, they’ll probably higher in the pecking order than Parker, who was never able to crack Luke Walton’s rotation last season.
Then, there’s Marvin Bagley III, who can play both the four and five. That versatility could prove to be valuable long-term, but in the short term, identifying the position that he’s best at is going to be crucial for the Kings because it will dictate what they do in the draft, in trades and in free agency.
Bagley played 87 percent of his minutes at center last season, but he also played just 334 minutes in total. Right now, he’s a giant question mark for the Kings, which can either turn out to be really good or really bad.
Can the Kings draft a power forward at no. 12?
Absolutely! In fact, most of the players that are expected to be available towards the end of the lottery are forwards. There’s Patrick Williams, a freshman forward out of Florida State University who’s projected by ESPN to go No. 12 overall to the Kings, and then there’s Saddiq Bey, who’s more of a three than a four, but has the size to play both.
Williams arguably has more upside than Bey because of his age, versatility and physicals (6’8 with a 7’0 wingspan), but for those reasons, he’s not guaranteed to be on the board when the Kings are on the clock. If that’s the case, the Kings are probably better off going for an upside play at a different position. After all, you don’t need to draft for fit when the only sure thing on your roster is a third-year point guard.
What about free agency?
Considering Harrison Barnes is under contract through 2023 and Bagley could end up playing a good chunk of his minutes at the four, a power forward should be low on the list of Kings’ priorities this offseason. Like, really, really low.
The Kings are better off maximizing the value of Ilyasova and Bjelica, or, if they’re traded before the season starts, seeing if they can unlock something in D.J. Wilson and Parker, the latter of whom was the No. 2 pick in the 2014 NBA Draft. Either one of those guys outplaying their contracts would be a huge win for the Kings.