DimeMag

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

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…

FIVE: Quick Hitter
This is something I have spoken about a little bit lately on podcasts and in player profiles, but it is almost as important as having talent. When a player gets on the court they need to do so with a purpose and an agenda. That starts with knowing your actual position. Too often distributors want to be scorers, big men want to be perimeter players, and the natural position of a player gets lost.

That has hurt the development of far too many players – sometimes by their choice or that of a coach, mentor, advisor, family member, or others. It is hard to tune that out when you are a teenager, but it really affects the development of a young prospect.

Looking at the 2013 Draft, there are some players miscast in positions that they will not play in the NBA — but they are playing them, likely for one of the reasons listed above. It is called a natural position because it is what comes naturally to a player. Going against that doesn’t often wield a positive result. Consider this a warning for every young player hoping to make it to the next level. Play your position.

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Top 5 Fits For Sacramento Right Now

1. Ben McLemore: 6-5, 185 pounds – Fresh., Kansas
Stats: 15.9 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 2.0 APG, 49.3 percent FG, 42.3 percent 3PT
At the very worst, McLemore is a floor spacer and transition finisher, both major needs for the team. At best, he has the ability to be a star in this league.

2. Shabazz Muhammad: 6-5, 225 pounds – Fresh., UCLA
Stats: 18.1 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 1.0 APG, 45.9 percent FG, 43.2 percent 3FT
One of the best catch-n-shoot players in college can play either the two or the three with his size and shooting ability. He can be a selfish offensive player, which fits into the current Kings culture.

3. Otto Porter: 6-8, 200 pounds – Soph., Georgetown
Stats: 15.9 PPG, 7.7 RPG, 2.4 APG, 2.0 SPG, 50.8 percent FG
The team has been in search of a glue player to blend together the talents of Cousins and Evans. That is exactly what Porter provides as an unselfish wing that does not need the ball to be successful.

4. Nerlens Noel: 6-11, 216 pounds – Fresh., Kentucky
Stats: 10.5 PPG, 9.5 RPG, 4.4 BPG, 59.0 percent FG, 52.9 percent FT (55-104)
Remember the defensive woes? Noel cannot resolve them all himself, but if he can transition to the NBA four then he and Cousins could be a truly great duo in the paint with the Kentucky connection.

5. Isaiah Austin: 7-0 200 pounds – Fresh., Baylor
Stats: 13.4 PPG, 9.0 RPG, 1.5 BPG, 46.5 percent FG, 31.5 percent 3PT (23-73)
This solves two problems for the team: Shooting and shotblocking. Austin is not the shooter that McLemore is or the defender Noel can be, but he does both well.

Finding roster balance is going to be important for the Kings this summer, starting with the draft. They do not have quality shooting from the outside because most of the roster for the past few years has been playing out of position. Drafting a player that can play a position with versatility will benefit the team long-term.

*Sacramento owes their 2013 first-round pick to Cleveland, but it is top-13 protected…*

Who should the Kings draft?

Follow Kristofer on Twitter at @NBADraftInsider.

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