Leading up to the 2014 NBA Draft – in the stretch run now, we are going to preview each team in the lottery for their needs. Taking a look at the teams individual strengths, weaknesses, roster, and what prospects would fit in with the current and future plans.
Pop Quiz: When was the last time the Sacramento Kings were a playoff team? The answer is nine seasons ago as a 44-win team that was bounced in the first round costing them Rick Adelman and nearly a decade of mediocrity. They get another chance at changing their fortunes with the seventh top-10 pick in the past six years.
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Here is the NBA Draft Fast Five.
ONE: 2014-2015 Potential Roster Review
Next year Rudy Gay will cash that 19.3 million dollar check, which is going to happen. Surrounding him will be the future of the team in DeMarcus Cousins, Ben McLemore, Isaiah Thomas, and Derrick Williams. They have stop-gap veterans like Travis Outlaw, Jason Thompson, Jason Terry, and Reggie Evans as well as an emerging Ray McCallum to round out the roster. There is a lot of potential with that group, but in recent years the team has lacked direction and focus on the court. Head Coach Mike Malone will be in his second year with the team giving him more experience with this group as a whole to put the talented individual pieces in a position to succeed.
TWO: Biggest Strengths
Last year the Kings were 4th in offensive rebounding percentage and 3rd in defensive rebounding percentage, both playing off of each other showing that they are very good at cleaning up the offensive glass. This is a good overall rebounding team with Cousins, Thompson, Evans, and gritty guards like Thomas on the roster. They play tough in the paint on the glass and get to the free-throw line effectively, partially because of the rebounding. This roster is filled with pieces, but they have yet to find the glue or structure to become a team.
THREE: Biggest Weaknesses
When you are last in the league in team assists there is an obvious void in play-making as a team. Outside of Isaiah Thomas, and for the second half Ray McCallum, the team is filled more with isolation scorers. On the perimeter the Kings also struggled with defending the three-point line giving up the 25th most points via shot beyond the arc. There is a void of two-way players on the perimeter on the Kings roster which leads to a one-dimensional shift depending on who is on the court. Also, despite the fact the stats do not show this, but a lack of team-oriented players creates the inconsistency the Kings face. The team defense and offensive flow suffer because of this.
FOUR: Odds In The 2014 NBA Draft Lottery
The Kings had a 23.2 percent chance of winning a step back to the No. 8 pick and the odds played that way moving them back from 7th Overall to 8th Overall in this draft. In two of the last three drafts the Kings were in a similar position selecting 7th Overall taking Bismack Biyombo (2011) and Ben McLemore (2013) respectively. They should be fairly comfortable in this spot selecting in the middle of the lottery.
FIVE: Recent History of the No. 8 Pick
In a vacuum this has been a historically bad place to draft in the past nine years overall. Outside of Rudy Gay in 2006 there have been historical misses like Joe Alexander, Brandon Wright, and most recently Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. The reason? Teams have reached wildly here especially on players like Alexander, KCP, and even Terrence Ross from a few years ago. This draft is eight deep with fringe all-star talent and the Kings are drafting No. 8 Overall. The decision is already made for them on the surface.
Five Prospects That Make Sense For The Sacramento Kings At No. 8 Overall
1. Noah Vonleh: 6-9.75, 247 pounds – PF Indiana
Stats: (In 26.5 MPG) 11.3 PPG 9.0 RPG 52.3 percent FG
It is difficult to find the perfect counter-balance for a star player, but Vonleh is the defensive, rebounding, and shooting that could make DeMarcus Cousins a better player and the Kings a future playoff contender. Best case-scenario.
2. Dante Exum: 6-6, 196 pounds – G, Australia
Stats: (2013 FIBA U19 Championships) 18.2 PPG 3.8 APG 33.3 percent 3PT
Sure, they just used recent picks on guards, but with a small-ish backcourt and the potential of Exum as a play-maker would be hard to pass up on if he slide this far down in the draft.
3. Julius Randle: 6-9, 250 pounds – PF, Kentucky
Stats: (In 30.8 MPG) 15.0 PPG 10.4 RPG 50.1 percent FG
Power Forward Plan B: Randle is a beast on the glass and can make plays on the perimeter stretching the floor, but is not the defender Vonleh is to compliment Cousins.
4. Aaron Gordon: 6-8.75, 220 pounds – F, Arizona
Stats: (In 31.2 MPG) 12.4 PPG 8.0 RPG 49.5 percent FG
Power Forward Plan C: Tough, athletic, defensive oriented, and a very high basketball IQ all of which are skills that Cousins and the Kings have not had for years now. Ideal combo-forward for a young, impressionable team.
5. Marcus Smart: 6-3.25, 227 pounds – G, Oklahoma State
Stats: (In 32.7 MPG) 18.0 PPG 4.8 APG 29.9 percent 3PT
If all of the Top 7 Prospects are off the board and the Kings have the decision to reach (again) or take the BPA then Smart would be the, well, smart decision here. Tough, defensive oriented combo-guard that would complement the plethora of scorers on the roster already.
Whether it is a power forward who can complement the talents of potential All-Star DeMarcus Cousins or a perimeter play-maker that makes an impact on both ends of the floor the Kings need to make the most of this pick. After the past few seasons of lottery picks not panning out this draft is crucial for the future of the franchise.
What do you think?
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