June 17, 2018, 4:00 pm
Thursday’s draft is rapidly closing in and we’ve had no shortage of rumors. The Kings, with the No. 2 pick, are right in the thick of things and have a lot of weight on their shoulders. What they do with their pick will essentially dictate the rest of the first round.
The overwhelming consensus around the league is that Arizona’s Deandre Ayton will go No. 1 to the Phoenix Suns. Anything can happen on draft night itself but it’s looking like a pretty good bet he’ll be off the board when it’s the Kings turn to pick.
Sacramento has been linked to Luka Doncic, Marvin Bagley and Michael Porter Jr. to varying degrees; those three are the top names we’ve heard the most about at No. 2. Assuming the Kings stay put, it’s almost certainly going to be one of those three players headed to Sacramento.
Doncic has been the running favorite since the team landed at the second spot, but when Duke’s Marvin Bagley came in for a workout last week his name became more prominent in draft discussion, and on Friday USA Today’s Sam Amick reported that the Kings have strong interest in Porter Jr, despite the injury history. With three names firmly in the mix it’s hard to get a proper sense of what exact direction Sacramento will go.
— NBA TV (@NBATV) June 16, 2018
It’s been a long time since the Kings have had this much power in a draft. There’s a decent handful of really good options to choose from and all three of the aforementioned players could turn out to be really good. Even if the team decides to trade down, something they’ve done in each of the last two drafts, there’s still some good talent available.
The Kings can’t afford to miss on their pick this year, so you’d have to think staying at No. 2 is in their best interests. Maybe trading out completely for future picks or an established star could be in play, too? Reports surfaced late last week that the Kings could be a suitor for the disgruntled Kawhi Leonard, who is reportedly wanting out of San Antonio. The second pick would obviously have to be included in such a deal, along with a young player or two. It’s a high asking price for a guy who could decide to leave after one season, so making a move like that may not be wise. If they can somehow get confirmation that he’ll re-sign with Sacramento then that completely changes the situation, but that’s incredibly unlikely.
Trading out for an established player seemingly presents less risk than drafting a player. That way, you’d obviously be getting someone who’s already proved themselves in the league and is ready to contribute from day one. That’s a path that will probably get heavy consideration by the Kings, but it’ll depend on the right offer coming along and it’ll have to benefit the team both in the short-term and long-term.
Going back to the draft prospects. Doncic seems like the safest pick of the three players mentioned earlier. He’s the most NBA-ready and has proven that with his numerous accolades in the world’s second best league.
After talking with various Kings sources, the one thread that I get is that Vlade genuinely likes Doncic as a pick. Still, they're in evaluation mode.
— Aaron Bruski (@aaronbruski) June 16, 2018
Bagley’s potential inclusion is interesting. It sounds like Harry Giles will be good to play next season, so that’s one guy who could be in the rotation. Skal Labissiere performed well at the back end of last season and will take up a good chunk of minutes. Willie Cauley-Stein has the starting center spot locked down for now. Kosta Koufos picked up his option and will be back, and Zach Randolph is still around to soak up whatever minutes Dave Joerger feels suitable. So where would Bagley fit in?
The 6-foot-11 big man shot 39.7 percent from three last season on 1.8 attempts per game. He showed enough to make people believe he has a respectable outside jumper, but will that actually carry over to the NBA? That’s still a big question mark, and because of that it restricts him to PF/C for now. The Kings would have to get rid of one or two of their big men for Bagley to get significant minutes in his first season, though, which potentially complicates the situation.
Porter has obvious question marks regarding his back injury, but reports following his second pro-day on Friday were positive. At 6-foot-10 he’s probably more suited as a power forward at the NBA level, but his shot making and scoring ability could allow him to slide to the small forward spot and that would suit the Kings perfectly. There are minutes up for grabs there, and that’s why Porter could make sense. But is he too risky to take second overall? Possibly.
Each potential option comes with varying degrees of baggage, though. Sacramento can go with the safe option in Doncic or by trading out, they can go with Bagley who will be ready to contribute but may cause a minutes crunch, or they could take a risk on the major upside of Porter and potentially fill the hole at small forward. Filling the small forward spot via a trade could tidy up the rotation, too, and it would provide the team with an established talent to build with.
The clock is ticking for the Kings and they have many different scenarios to consider. Thursday will be a big night for the organization.