Five prospects appear to be locks to go at the top of the draft. Oklahoma State’s Cade Cunningham is projected to go first overall, and it’s anyone’s guess how the next four selections will shake out.
Jalen Suggs, Jalen Green, Evan Mobley, and Jonathan Kuminga should round out the top five. If the Kings can move into any spot between 2-4, they will be able to add a foundational piece to play alongside De’Aaron Fox and Tyrese Haliburton.
ESPN’s draft experts Jonathon Givony and Mike Schmitz did a joint piece on who each lottery team would take between Nos. 2-4 (if they miss out on Cunningham) and if the team stays put in their current position. Here is who they think the Kings are interested in:
The player they’d prioritize after Cunningham if they move up: Evan Mobley
The worst defensive team in the NBA according to several metrics, the Kings have little in the way of proven commodities at either big-man position, making Mobley an easy player to slot into their roster. His ability to cover ground seamlessly on the perimeter and protect the rim with phenomenal timing should allow him to grow into a defensive anchor eventually, and his occasional passivity can be masked on a team with plenty of offensive firepower.
The player they’d take if they stay where they are: Isaiah Jackson
While not in the same stratosphere as Mobley in terms of size or polish, Jackson offers some of the same defensive upside with the mobility and impressive quickness he shows getting off the ground to protect the rim. He has some budding skill he can tap into offensively and should emerge as a nice building block for a team that is willing to be patient with his development.
After finishing 15th in blocks per game, the Kings rim protection would improve if they’re able to land Mobley. The USC star ranked sixth in the nation with 2.9 blocks per game and would give head coach Luke Walton an anchor on the backline of the defense.
Mobley isn’t a one-dimensional product. He averaged 16.4 points, 8.7 rebounds and shot an impressive 57.8 percent from the field. The 19-year-old starred for the Trojans during their run in the NCAA Tournament.
With the stakes at their highest, Mobley put up 13.5 points, 9.2 rebounds, and 2.0 blocks per game in the Tournament and helped USC make it to the Elite Eight.
If the Kings are in a position to select Mobley, general manager Monte McNair will have to see how he would fit with free agent to be Richaun Holmes.
ESPN has the Kings going with Kentucky’s Jackson if they stay put at No. 9. As mentioned, Jackson doesn’t possess the maturity to his game that Mobley has, but he will help a Sacramento defense that finished with the worst defensive rating in NBA history.
The 6’10 freshman averaged 8.4 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 2.6 blocks per game for the Wildcats last season.
Here is NBAdraft.Net’s scouting report on Jackson:
While today’s NBA game has moved away from athletic but less skilled centers, Jackson’s long term potential as both a rim protector and shooter give him solid intrigue … Jackson projects to be an excellent defensive big that disrupts opposing offenses … He should ultimately be able to become a good pick and roll defender and should create transition opportunities … Offensively, he needs time to develop, but should be a good rim runner and pick and roll option … Over time, he could potentially develop into a pick and pop threat as well, although he will likely be more of a driving threat than a jump shooter in the pick and pop game … He has limited offensive repertoire, but proved to be a defensive game-changer.
There is an impressive list of NBA players who were selected No. 9 at the draft. Dirk Nowitzki, Tracy McGrady, Amar’e Stoudemire, Shawn Marion, DeMar DeRozan, and Andre Iguodala were all picked ninth, so hopefully, the Kings can have similar luck if they wind up staying put.
Which prospects would you like the Kings to target if they stay No. 9? Outside of Cunningham, which player do you think would be the best fit for the Kings if they move into the top four?