Thursday, June 7, 2012

How Can I Help You? Sacramento Kings

Thomas has been anything but irrelevant.
The Kings have been a franchise in turmoil ever since the days of Vlade Divac, Chris Webber, Mike Bibby, and Peja Stojakovic. The franchise was treated to one of the most infamous screwjobs in NBA history and there are currently talks of moving the team away from Sacramento. It seems like the Kings desperately need to win. Let's see what they can do.

I'll start off by pointing out that the only significant loss to free agency will be center Jason Thompson. Thompson has shown flashes of dominating the glass in his career, but his inconsistency will probably make the team lean against resigning him.

At point guard, the Kings drafted Jimmer Fredette with their lottery pick last year. While he hasn't panned out like a lottery pick usually does, Mr. Irrelevant Isaiah Thomas has certainly been a revelation. Despite his size, Thomas has converted himself into a stellar point guard at the next level. He still has a knack for scoring even in the NBA and his guard skills are top notch. At the 2, Sacramento is loaded with Tyreke Evans and Marcus Thornton. The two young guards are very talented at scoring, even though Evans has declined since his rookie year. What's even better is that Evans has the ability to play PG even at 6'6" and Thornton could eat some minutes at SF if necessary. It seems like the Kings' backcourt is set.

At small forward, the only remaining players are Travis Outlaw and Tyler Honeycutt. While Honeycutt was just drafted last year, he is more of a defensive specialist, so a SF may be on Sacramento's wish list.  Francisco Garcia and John Salmons both play the position, but their skills have greatly declined. DeMarcus Cousins occupies the power forward spot and he is getting better with every season. While he still has his attitude issues, he's a keeper for the Kings and a player to build the franchise around.

The center spot is empty with the departure of Thompson, and the only actual C left on the roster is Chuck Hayes who averaged 3.2 points per game last year and stands at 6'6". Time to find a new center.

The Kings pick 5th and 36th in the draft. Who do they take?

Drummond has a lot of work to do to reach his potential.
It's clear that the biggest voids for the Kings are small forward and center, and there are two players that should be still available at number five that fit those positions: Andre Drummond and Harrison Barnes.

While Barnes is still a bit raw, he has the potential to be a great player in the NBA. His scoring both on the perimeter and attacking the rim would be greatly valued by the Kings. However, he still has work to do on his game on both sides of the ball, and his sophomore season, specifically the end of it, left a sour taste in some people's mouths.

Arguably the riskiest prospect in this year's draft is Drummond. He is a physical specimen that is very athletic, fast, and explosive for a man of his stature. His work down low, on the glass, and on defense both patrolling the paint and blocking shots make him a monster. However, his skills are incredibly raw, he's limited offensively, and he has bust written all over him. Personally, I think he's going to be one. However, I see the Kings taking the risk here. He would be a good fit pairing with the offensive minded Cousins and if Sacramento develops him the right way, they'll have struck gold. Barnes wouldn't be a bad pick either, but the Kings have a pressing need on defense that Drummond could fix.

With the #36 pick, Sacramento should then try to fill that void at small forward. Here are a few players they'll be looking at.

Darius Miller from Kentucky is a sharpshooter with great size and solid all around skills. His experience at Kentucky is valuable, but the fact that his minutes were limited may be a cause for concern. Kostas Papanikolaou from Greece is an international forward with a high motor and good defensive ability. He can shoot the three ball as well, but his athleticism is something to be desired. Jae Crowder from Marquette is another high energy player that the Kings could plug into their squad. While his physical tools are not at an NBA level, he can score from anywhere on the court and be a factor on the glass.

Mitchell is underrated, but will make an impact in the NBA.
However, I think a sleeper for Sacramento to draft would be Tony Mitchell from North Texas. While Mitchell did play in the Sun Belt conference, he displayed some impressive skills. He has the ability to guard multiple positions and is an elite shot blocker. He runs the floor well. And he can score both in the post and from the mid range. It seems that the biggest knock on Mitchell is that he is turnover prone and is still refining his skills. He'll be able to do this in the NBA and he should be shooting up draft boards in the coming weeks. It won't take long for him to grab the Kings' attention, and I think they would be wise to make this pick.

To sum it all up, I would suggest the Kings take Andre Drummond with the 5th pick and Tony Mitchell with the 36th pick. That would give the team a starting five of Thomas, Evans, Thornton, Cousins, and Drummond and a bench of Mitchell, Honeycutt, and Fredette. While there's still a ton of youth on this roster and it will still be some time before they are competitive, as long as Drummond turns out alright, they'll get there.

Next up are the Portland Trailblazers, who have two lottery picks and are in a puzzling situation as they seem to be rebuilding, but still have a lot of talent on their roster.

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