The 2020 NBA Draft is officially in the books. The Kings went into the night with four picks, and came out with three players, as well as an extra second-rounder in 2022. Those three players are Tyrese Haliburton out of Iowa State, Robert Woodard II out of Mississippi State, and Jahmi’us Ramsey from Texas Tech.
Together, these three players give us the first indication of what Monte McNair and the rest of the front office are looking for in building this Sacramento roster, so it only makes sense for our staff to give this draft a collective grade.
Sabreena Merchant: It didn’t really matter what the Kings did with their second-round picks once they got Haliburton in the first round. Drafting Haliburton at no. 12 is an unqualified success, one of the two best picks the Kings have made over the last ten years along with drafting De’Aaron Fox in 2017. Haliburton was habitually mocked in the top six or seven of this draft; most people didn’t even entertain the possibility that he would fall to Sacramento at no. 12. He has killer passing vision and is a wonderful shooter, even if he isn’t a high-level scorer, but that allows to facilitate for others while still keeping the offense humming. That’s a great trait to have on a team that has scorers in Fox, Buddy Hield, Harrison Barnes, and potentially still Bogdan Bogdanovic, but not a lot of players with the ability to create.
Haliburton also brings some pop defensively — few college stats are more important than steal rate in terms of predicting NBA success, and Haliburton was an absolute thief who also sprinkled in some chase-down blocks. One thing that stood out from his opening press conference was his desire to play fast; doing that with Fox would make this Kings team so fun to watch, provided Luke Walton relents and allows the team to push the pace. Haliburton is going to be great, and it’s so exciting to have him in Sacramento.
The other two Kings are a little less certain, which is to be expected for second-rounders. Woodard’s position on the Big Board ranged from 20 to 47 depending on the outlet; he has the motor and raw tools to be a 3-and-D player, but the shot is more theoretical right now. and he needs to improve his athleticism to guard smaller players. Ramsey was consistently mocked in the high 30s, so he’s good value at no. 43. He scores well for himself, but it’s unclear right now what else he’s going to provide. I like the Woodard pick more than Ramsey, especially because more proven players like Isaiah Joe, Grant Riller, and Paul Reed were available, but reaching in the 40s is a perfectly acceptable outcome. Grade: A-
Jas Kang: Haliburton brings exactly what the Kings need. Landing a talent like him late in the lottery is an absolute success for McNair. Haliburton will fit in seamlessly next to Fox as Sacramento ushers in a new era. The Iowa State product checks all of the boxes for the Kings. Haliburton is a very good 3-point shooter, connecting on 41.9 percent of his attempts last season and is a versatile defender who will be able to hold his own in the league from day one. After years of terrible lottery luck, Sacramento finally had something go its way.
Although the 2020 NBA Draft wasn’t loaded with top-end talent, it is a deep class, so the franchise is hoping Woodard or Ramsey can develop into at least rotational players. Woodard seems to have the higher upside of the two and if he can develop into being more a shooting threat, he has the potential to carve out a career as a 3-and-D player.
Overall, McNair has to be thrilled with landing Haliburton at No. 12. The Kings were able to fill a major need with a player who seems to be motivated by the fact 11 teams passed up on him. Grade: A