Yes, thankfully this pick does still belong to the Sacramento Kings… at least for one more season. The Maloofs and GM Geoff Petrie may actually have the most difficult decision in the Draft and the pick with the most uncertainty and intrigue. The Kings were a disappointingly putrid 24-58 last season and suffered through a season filled with injuries, discontentment, and rumors of relocation. Perhaps surprisingly, Paul Westphal will return for another season as Kings head coach with a tumultuous roster that has some decent pieces. Here’s a look at the depth chart:
G: Tyreke Evans – 17.8 PPG, 5.6 APG, 40.9% FG, missed 25 games due to injury
G: Marcus Thornton – 21.3 PPG, 45.0% FG, started 23 of 27 games after coming from NO midseason
F: Omri Casspri/Donte Greene – each started more than 20 games, none averaged greater than 10 PPG
F: DeMarcus Cousins – 14.1 PPG, 8.6 RPG in rookie season
C: Sam Dalembert – 8.1 PPG, 8.2 RPG
G: Beno Udrih, Francisco Garcia, Luther Head
F: Jason Thompson, Casspri/Greene, Darnell Jackson
C: Hassan Whiteside
Looking at that depth chart, there is one obvious hole at the small forward position, especially considering the way that Marcus Thornton played in the backcourt after coming over in a midseason trade with the Hornets. The platoon of Casspri and Greene is as uninspiring as it gets. The Kings are pretty well set in the interior with all-rookie performer Cousins, Dalembert, Thompson, and a project in Whiteside, so a big man is probably out of the equation with this pick.
The other question on the Kings roster is the point guard position… meaning there’s not exactly a hole in the backcourt, but do Paul Westphal and Kings fans really want to keep going with Tyreke Evans at the point? Beno Udrih is simply not the long-term answer, especially with his way-too-big contract.
Fortunately for the Kings, there are players at both positions that will be available with Pick #7. In fact, there are likely to be players in play for the Kings to choose from that fill those needs. However, given this year’s questionable draft class, there are issues that would bring hesitancy with each player…
BYU Guard Jimmer Fredette may be a reach at #7, and may not directly fill one of those needs, but the Maloofs are thought to be in love with his marketability. Whether the Kings stay in Sacramento or move to a new market, JimmerMania will sell more tickets and draw more buzz than almost any other player in this draft. His outside shooting would compliment Evans’ slashing capabilities… but you would still be stuck with Tyreke playing the point. There’s also the potential of Jimmer becoming the next Adam Morrison and a legendary bust (without the creepy stache that is).
Nobody can question the toughness and heart of NCAA Tourney MOP Kemba Walker from UConn. He’s a poor man’s Allen Iverson with a unique ability to get his own shot and score from anywhere on the court for a player under six feet tall. He carried UConn to a championship… but is he an NBA point guard? I’m not so sure. He had to do so much scoring and ballhandling at Connecticut, that it was often 1 v 5 starring Kemba Walker. His 4.5 APG don’t inspire confidence in his ability to distribute consistently either. Maybe the combo of Walker and Evans can produce enough point guard ability to get by… but it just seems like a duplication of the issues that face Sactown with Evans leading the backcourt.
San Diego State F Kawhi Leonard is the one prospect that may be the best fit… unfortunately he may indeed be snapped up by the Wizards at #6 (as in our mock draft). He could step in right away and be one of the best wing defenders and rebounders in the league with his 7’3″ wingspan. But, he can’t shoot. His 29.1% three point shooting shows a player that will need a lot of time to develop a consistent jump shot. If Leonard is off the table, the next best prospect on the wing may be Texas’ Jordan Hamilton, who would at least provide the diverse offensive game Leonard lacks, but would be as big of a reach as Fredette at #7.
If I’m Kings GM Geoff Petrie, I’m waiting by the phone and praying that the Spurs are willing to give up Tony Parker, or the Knicks fall in love with Jimmer and offer Ray Felton and their first rounder. If I have to keep the pick though, I’m using all of the allotted time, and finally deciding on…
It scares me that neither Walker nor Evans is a traditional PG, but Walker would instantly bring an element of on-court leadership that Sacramento is crying out for. Kemba could help take the pressure off Evans in the backcourt and the rotation with Thornton would also have the effect of drastically helping the Kings bench. In crunch time situations, Evans also has the size to go to the 3 and Sacramento can go small. It’s not the perfect solution, but Sacramento isn’t going to find that at #7 in this year’s class. Walker is still a big enough name to sell some tickets and could give a huge intangible factor that Sacramento desperately needs. It’s a tough spot for the Kings, but Walker is the pick.