Tracking This Year’s NBA Draft: The 5 Best Fits For Sacramento

By: 02.27.13
Kentucky's Nerlens Noel. (photo. UK Athletics/Chet White)

Kentucky’s Nerlens Noel. (photo. UK Athletics/Chet White)

Each Wednesday, we’ll be assessing how the top prospects of the 2013 NBA Draft are faring in college and overseas. Stick with us each week for assorted thoughts, including the biggest risers and fallers, the standouts, the sleepers and what we know and don’t know about the next NBA Draft class…

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Are they going to be the Sacramento Kings, Seattle Kings, or the Seattle Supersonics when all is said and done? No matter the city or name, the team in Sacto right now is positioning themselves near the top of the 2013 NBA Draft as they have for the past four years. Is this finally their year to cash in on a franchise player?

Here is the NBA Draft Fast Five.

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ONE: What Do We Know About The Sacramento Kings?
Culturally, the Kings have never been known as a defensive team, especially over the past 10-15 years. Even during the glory years when they made the playoffs eight straight seasons, they were always lingering at or near the bottom of the defensive ratings index. They won with offense. That is gone too, especially the ability to consistently shoot the ball from three.

The model has not changed dramatically as they have been the worst defensive team overall the past two seasons and do not look like they have the personnel to change that.

As the roster is constructed right now, the best players on the team are Isaiah Thomas, DeMarcus Cousins and Tyreke Evans, none of which are guaranteed past the 2013-2014 season. Realistically the team could hit the reset button and start over, beginning with the 2013 Draft.

On the surface those three formulate a quality core of young players, but Evans has regressed every year of his professional career while Cousins is a powder keg that just needs the slightest spark to blow. The team has a full array of role players with Patrick Patterson, Jason Thompson, Marcus Thornton, James Johnson and Jimmer Fredette to fill up the bench. They all play a role, none of which is that of a leader.

TWO: What Do They Need?
Looking forward rather than in the here and now, do the Kings have a franchise player?

Thomas is a quality young leader, but has always been a shoot-first point guard that is undersized for his position. No question he is tough and scrappy — the proof is on the court as the former No. 60 overall pick is starting in the NBA.

With a ball-dominant point guard (if he is the teams’ long-term choice) targeting a player that does not need the ball in his hands all the time would help balance the roster. Between Evans, Cousins, and Thomas, they take 37.4 percent of the teams shots on the offensive end. Most of them are in isolation or one-on-one situations. Having a shooter roaming the perimeter or an offensive threat that can move off the ball makes the most sense for roster balance.

THREE: Stock Rising
With all of the young, athletic big men in this class a talent like Jeff Withey has the potential to get overlooked by the eyes of the casual fan. But NBA teams can see the value. He is a mobile, shotblocking big man that is skilled and trained over the years on a great team. The downfall of a young big man is that they are normally raw, whereas with Withey, he is a proven commodity that has shown the ability to get better every year with opportunity. In certain NBA circles Withey is valued more. Those younger athletes that have the potential to get a scout, general manager or coach fired.

FOUR: Stock Falling
All season, the best point guard in the nation has been Phil Pressey, at least for the first 30-35 minutes of the game. He has the vision and ability to make plays for his teammates at an elite level. The way Pressey navigates the defense shows he has the command and presence of an elite NBA point guard. Yet when the game gets tight, Pressey has been erratic and borderline indefensible.

There is no question Pressey is a great playmaker with a high basketball IQ, but you cannot ignore the late game woes over the past two seasons.

Keep reading to see which five players the Kings should be looking to draft…

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