Kings

Who Will Sacramento Select at No. 12?

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Sitting at No. 12 in Wednesday’s NBA Draft, the Sacramento Kings are in an excellent position to select a solid contributor. While this draft has been consistently ridiculed for being one of the weakest ever in terms of the elite talent at the top, it does project to have some solid supporting players as well as high-upside guys to be found towards the end of the lottery where new general manager Monte McNair will be picking from.

In terms of positional need, the team isn’t in a spot where it can be picky.

The only player that McNair should account for in terms of fit on the current roster is point guard De’Aaron Fox. Aside from Fox, no one player on the roster has shown enough for the team not to draft the best talent on the board regardless of position. 

Following Monday’s night’s trade of Bogdan Bogdanovic to the Milwaukee Bucks for Donte DiVincenzo, D.J. Wilson and Ersan Ilyasova, the team is in a spot where it could use really anything from a secondary initiator, to a 3-and-D wing, to even a stretch big man.

Let’s dive into the guards, wings and bigs that could be available at No. 12. 

Guards

The Bogdanovic trade opens up a clear need for some type of secondary ball handler with the ability to play with Fox and shoot the ball. There are several combo guards slated to be in this range that fit that type of skillset.

A couple of intriguing guards that have already been linked to the Kings in the pre-draft process and fit this mold are Alabama guard Kira Lewis and French guard Killian Hayes. 

If the team wants to return to the fast-paced identity it had in the 2018-19 season under former head coach Dave Joerger, then the speedy Lewis next to Fox would form the fastest backcourt in the NBA. Listed at just 6’3’’ and 165 lbs, the wiry Lewis is similar to Fox in the way he excels in transition and has a quick first step.

Hayes is also slight of frame but stands a little taller at 6’5” and 175 lbs. He is a dynamic playmaker who excels in the pick-and-roll. Hayes’ spot in the draft is pretty up in the air at this point, with an opinion on him differing wildly partially due to his team situation overseas. 

Other versatile guards that could fit with Fox in that same manner include Kentucky’s Tyrese Maxey and Stanford’s Tyrell Terry.

Terry is a sharpshooter who has rocketed up draft boards during the pandemic, as he’s gained 15 lbs of heft in the pre-draft process. Terry projects to be at minimum a high-efficiency sniper with the ability to play make. 

Maxey on the other hand is a solid defender with an affinity for making big plays.  

Wings

With Harrison Barnes as the team’s only legitimate wing locked up for the long term, the team will definitely have to bolster its depth at that spot in one way or another. This draft would be a terrific opportunity to fill that void, as the team will have the opportunity to pick from a few different multifaceted wings, all of which bring something different to the table.

If the team doesn’t want to swing for the fences with this pick, there are a few wings projected to be on the board that could slide in seamlessly to a 3-and-D role in Sacramento. Florida State’s Devin Vassell and Villanova’s Saddiq Bey are guys that can guard multiple positions and knock down the long ball at a consistent clip.

Vassell specifically would be a great fit on the Kings or really any team with his ability to defend in a team concept while also not needing the ball. The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor compares Vassell to Robert Covington, Khris Middleton and Matisse Thybulle.

Auburn’s Isaac Okoro and Florida State’s Patrick Williams are projected by most mock drafts to go before No. 12, but if either fell to the Kings, both would immediately become the best wing defender on the roster, something that has been lacking in Sacramento since the days of the artist formerly known as Ron Artest.

Other wing names to watch out for include a couple of sharpshooters, Vanderbilt’s Aaron Nesmith, and TCU’s Desmond Bane. Both Nesmith and Bane have a legitimate case as being the best shooters in the draft and make even more sense on the roster following the Bogdanovic trade.

Bigs

The team’s former regime had some sort of fetish for drafting bigs with their first pick, even despite the NBA becoming an increasingly guard and wing-oriented league in the last decade. 

Memphis’s James Wiseman and USC’s Onyeka Okongwu are likely to get selected in the top 10, so it would be pretty shocking to see the Kings go for a big man with this pick, but that hasn’t stopped the franchise before.

One big that could be realistically selected by McNair and Co. is Aleksej Pokusevski, a 7’0” Serbian teenager with great ball-handling skills and movement for his size. 

“Poku” is one of the biggest boom-or-bust guys on the board with his rare combination of height and off-the-dribble moves, but he is likely to be a project who won’t positively contribute to winning in the NBA for at least a season or two. 

At just north of 200 lbs, “Poku,” would have to add some serious heft to reach his full potential. If he does hit that potential, though, he could wind up as one of the best players in this draft class.

Other than taking a shot on Poku, it would be pretty surprising to see the Kings select another big man in this spot, although guys like Memphis’ Precious Achiuwa and Maryland’s Jalen Smith could be options if you squint hard enough.

Conclusion

NBA insiders can’t quite seem to peg down exactly what McNair and company plan to do with this pick, although it has been mentioned several times that the front office will rely on analytics to inform their selection.

What’s Inside McNair’s Head?

There are a number of different viable directions that the new front office could go with at this spot in the draft, which could have a lasting impact on this franchise. Ultimately though, with this being McNair’s first transaction as an NBA GM, it should at the very least show what McNair values in team building.

Follow us on Twitter @Kings_Lead for the latest Kings news and insight.

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About Leo Tochterman

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