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Crown Jewels: Which prospects Kings have held interviews with prior to 2021 NBA Draft

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Robert Goddin-USA TODAY Sports

The Sacramento Kings hope to add an impactful player with the No. 9 pick in the 2021 NBA Draft. General manager Monte McNair is trying to help shape the roster around centerpieces De’Aaron Fox and Tyrese Haliburton so the franchise can end its 15-year playoff drought.

The consensus is that there is a drop-off after the top five in this year’s draft, but reports have surfaced that a few prospects are starting to climb up the draft board. The Kings are hoping to get some similar luck to last year, where they were able to land the steal of the draft at No. 12 in Haliburton.

Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee reports that the Kings have already held pre-draft interviews with several prospects who are projected to be lottery picks. Jones says the Kings have met with Scottie Barnes, Keon Johnson and Davion Mitchell. Anderson added that European prospect Vrenz Bleijenbergh is scheduled to work out in Sacramento on Monday.

Barnes played for Leonard Hamilton during his freshman season at Florida State. The forward averaged 11 points and 4.2 assists while shooting 29.2 percent from the 3-point line. Here is NBA Draft Room’s profile on Barnes:

Barnes is one of those players who can do it all on the basketball court. He’s listed as a small forward but he’s got the size to defend in the paint and the skills to initiate the offense. He spends most of his minutes running the point for FSU, showing off his elite passing vision and feel for the game.

Barnes is generally mocked in the top 10 of most mocks but we see him having even higher upside and a chance to break into the top 5.

Scottie is a competitor who gives great effort and plays the game the right way. Essentially he’s a 6-9 point guard who can guard 4 or 5 positions. Sign me up for that!

Barnes might not be around at No. 9, but he appears to be a great fit with the Kings because of his defensive capabilities.

Johnson has been mocked to the Kings by several draft pundits. The freshman averaged 11.2 points and connected on 26.1 percent of his attempts from the beyond the arc for Tennessee last season. Here is what The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor’s thinks of Johnson’s fit with the Kings:

Johnson didn’t start playing organized basketball full time until high school, and it shows with his raw abilities on the floor. But he could become a bouncy finisher with go-to scoring skills if he’s able to successfully develop the unseasoned areas of his game. The playoff-desperate Kings might be tempted to go with a so-called win-now player, but they should be realistic about their postseason chances and favor upside.

Explosive athlete with raw skills who flashes the ability to someday become an excellent go-to scorer.

Mitchell helped lead Baylor to its first national championship last season. The point guard put up 14 points and 5.5 assists while shooting 44.7 percent from deep during his redshirt junior season. Here is NBA Draft Room’s profile on Mitchell:

Davion Mitchell is a tough, hard-nosed point guard who impacts both ends of the floor. He’s one of the leaders of a loaded Baylor team and is the engine that drives the high scoring offense. He’s also an elite defender, probably the best on ball defender in the draft. Davion has a lightening quick first step and good blow-by ability. He can dance with the ball and when he decides to go his first step is devastating. He takes it strong to the hoop and can finish over length and absorb contact on the way to the rim.

His driving ability opens up his outside game and he’s becoming a knockdown 3pt shooter, after struggling from deep earlier in his career.

He’s a good decision-maker with the ball, doing a good job of orchestrating the offense, setting up teammates for open shots and knowing when to look for his own shot. It helps playing with a great backcourt mate in Jared Butler and other talented players but his passing and play-making really stands out.

His FT shooting is below par and really needs to improve for him to be a trusted ball handler in the clutch.

As mentioned, he’s a great defender who really gets after the ball. He has true lock-down ability and brings a ton of value on the defensive end of the court.

The kind of competitor you want to have on your team.

Doesn’t have ideal size at just over 6-1 in shoes.

And older prospect, born in 1998.

Mitchell is another player who checks multiple boxes for the Kings. They need to add another playmaker who can take some pressure off Fox, and Mitchell will help improve the team’s last-ranked defense.

Some of the players who should be available at No. 9 include Franz Wagner and Jalen Johnson. Neither player has met with the Kings, but that could certainly change in the coming weeks.

Which prospect would you prefer out of Barnes, Johnson and Mitchell?

On to some links:

Speaking of Wagner, how would he fit with the Kings next season? James Ham of NBC Sports California does a deep dive into Wagner’s potential with Sacramento and the Golden State Warriors.

We will see some players move up and down the draft board leading up to July 29. Bleacher Report’s Jonathan Wasserman looks at which three prospects he believes will be available when it's time for the Kings to make their selection.

Haliburton is getting his feet wet in the international game while playing for the team USA Select Team. Jason Jones of The Athletic caught up with Haliburton to discuss what he learned while with the national program.

Which player could the Kings target in a surprise trade this offseason? Bleacher Report’s Grant Hughes says Sacramento should target a Pacific Division big man.