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2024 NBA Draft Prospect Discussion: Kel’el Ware

Ware is a tantalizing on-paper fit for the Kings, but comes with some concerns.
By | 31 Comments | Jun 25, 2024

Mar 10, 2024; Bloomington, Indiana, USA; Indiana Hoosiers center Kel'el Ware (1) after the game against the Michigan State Spartans at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

The 2024 NBA Draft will be held on Wednesday, June 26th and Thursday, June 27th. Our resident draft expert Bryant has semi-retired from draft scouting, so we won’t have his usual in-depth breakdowns to rely on. So we’re going to do our draft coverage a little differently this year. We’ll present some prospects, share some highlight videos, and share some general thoughts before opening it up to the group to discuss. 

We’ve covered the majority of the likely candidates for the Sacramento Kings and the 13th pick, but we’ve yet to discuss Kel’el Ware. Ware worked out for the Kings in the same workout as Zach Edey, and could certainly hear his name called in the late lottery on Wednesday. Let’s learn a little more about the Indiana big man.

NBA Position: Big

General Info: 20-year-old, played at Indiana University. From North Little Rock, Arkansas.

Measurables: 6’11.75″ w/o shoes, 230.0 lbs, 7’4.5″ wingspan, 9’4.5″ standing reach.

2023-2024  Season Statistics: 15.9 PPG, 9.9 RPG, 1.5 APG, 0.6 SPG, 1.9 BPG, 1.6 TPG (30 games played, 32.2 minutes per game), 58.6% FG, 42.5% 3P, 63.4% FT

It’s easy to understand why some Kings fans are enamored by Ware. Ware is tall, long, and really athletic. He’d be an immediate lob threat, and has the size and athleticism to be a rim protector at the NBA level. He also shot well from three last season, 42.5%, but on just 1.3 attempts per game. Still, a rim-running, shot-blocking big man with demonstrated touch from deep? That sounds like a pretty perfect pairing with Domantas Sabonis.

The knocks on him are his toughness, competitiveness, and focus. Not ideal. To take a risk on Ware at 13 would require a leap of faith from the front office that Ware can grow past those weaknesses. If Ware can, regardless of where he ends up, he could be a steal of the draft. But we’ve seen guys coast through college on their athletic ability and then disappoint in the pros. The knocks on Ware remind me of the concerns around Willie Cauley-Stein before he was drafted. WCS was a serviceable player for a few years, but never became what we hoped for. That would be my worry with Ware.

Still, if the Kings were to draft Ware, it would be easy to talk myself into it. I’d be concerned about the motor, physicality, and focus, but I’d sooth myself with how perfect the on-paper fit would be next to Sabonis.

 

 

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Want2win
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June 25, 2024 11:58 am

You know who else is a perfect fit next to Sabonis and doesn’t have a questionable motor and will probably be available at the 13th pick. Mr. Ron Holmes. Block shots would be able to guard the floor can shoot outside.

andy_sims
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June 25, 2024 4:24 pm
Reply to  Want2win

Da

Want2win
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June 25, 2024 5:18 pm
Reply to  andy_sims

Thanks, Andy .. talk to text did not pick up on the Da. At least it didn’t change the name to John Holmes. He does have size, but I’m not sure it’s the type that we’re looking for.

RobHessing
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June 25, 2024 11:58 am

The knocks on Ware remind me of the concerns around Willie Cauley-Stein before he was drafted.

Dibs on the first run of TKH “Una Ware” t-shirts.

TheGrantNapear
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June 25, 2024 12:03 pm

WCS 2.0? yikes.
I think Ware is a worthy pick if Holmes isn’t there or if we don’t use the pick to trade for a PF.

Hobby916
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June 25, 2024 12:23 pm
Reply to  TheGrantNapear

WCS 2.0 is what makes me pause about Ware. Will he put in the work to get better? Does he have the BBIQ to function in the King’s system?

TheGrantNapear
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June 25, 2024 1:51 pm
Reply to  Hobby916

WCS was a different breed (not in a good way). I recall him either comparing himself or saying he was better than Porzingis.

SavageBeast
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June 25, 2024 12:09 pm

Dear Greg,

Please place my order for the height and reach of Ware, the talent of Holmes, and the drive of Edey. You can deliver it straight to LV Summer League.

Thanks

SavageBeast
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June 25, 2024 12:19 pm
Reply to  SavageBeast

Or just have Ron Holland drop.

RobHessing
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June 25, 2024 12:43 pm
Reply to  SavageBeast

That would be a Dutch treat.

SavageBeast
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June 25, 2024 1:24 pm
Reply to  RobHessing

Cherry pie, cream puffs, treacle tarts, Holland drops. All free today.

6gw89la2qeq91
Hobby916
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June 25, 2024 1:36 pm
Reply to  SavageBeast

comment image

kings4ever
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June 25, 2024 12:52 pm

We should target Adem Bona. Dude has star potential! As a shot blocker, as an all-NBA defender and a nasty force. Future stardom is staring right in your face for those with the eyes to see.  We need a lethal defender in the paint since we just committed 78M to a trash defender. 

When I evaluate a front court prospect I like to see a basketball player before sheer size. It is a good sign if you see a baller first, a big man second.  If the prospect is lumbering about, mechanical and methodical, struggling to get his limbs to cooperate, sigh.  He will usually be a half step behind and a beat late, whether to box out, set a pick, grab a board, block a shot, follow tip, garner a 50/50 ball, or do the little things that do not show in the box score.  

Think about Banchero and Wemby as prospects, and go back further, to our own Domas. Despite their mammoth frames, they move about the floor with grace and agility. The best bigs play like guards in bigger bodies. A big who is worth a damn inherently understands angles, getting to sweet spots decisively with hustle and headiness. How do you think Domas leads the NBA in rebounding, Wemby and Paolo win ROY? These are smart players who happen to be big, not just bigs trying to hoop. 

If you see prospects through this filter, I do not know how you can be that impressed with DeSilva, DaRon Holmes, Zach Edey, Ware and even Yves Missi, one guy I liked before accepting he is 18 months away from being 18 months away, which is the bulk of a rookie contract. Holmes is a terrible pick setter, no sense of timing or physicality. DeSilva is soft as Charmin on a prospective team with enough nice guys. Ware sucks. I am impressed with Dalton Knecht, Ron Holland and Cody Williams, but they likely won’t be around at #13. 

A redeeming quality of a worthy prospect is spatial awareness. This is to suggest you know where the opportunity and threat exists on the floor, you are not just floating about hoping to luck your way into something good. Ben McLemore had terrible spatial awareness. So did Willie There would be somewhere to go or not go, and by the time they would identify where to go or not go it would be too late. Keon and Fox are the opposite, which suggests an ability to anticipate in advance, a sort of sixth sense, the spatial awareness of a cat, to anticipate and deny the opponent, and identify and get to open space yourself to score or facilitate.

Adem has good spatial awarness. The Pac-12 DOPY, was a soccer player, like legend Hakeem Olajuwon. Nimble feet matter!  Adem has the motor and lateral mobility to hedge and blitz the pick and roll. If you cannot do this you cannot play; it is why our coach lost confidence in Neemias, why when the Mavs had their best success in their post season when they switched Gobert, KAT, Horford or KP onto Luka in open space.

If a big cannot guard outside the paint, forget about it. Cross his hopeless ass off the list. McGee was useless for this reason among others. I pity the fans of the team that drafts Edey. A 7’4’ pylon is still a pylon. He can play as hard as he wants, he is still going to be slow.  I hear Walker Kessler may be on the trade block. Wasn’t he supposed to be good? Danny Ainge realized this guy is a cooked chicken on burnt toast when asked to defend outside the paint.  

The 4-time DPOY cost his team a trip to the NBA Finals because he got eviscerated in the pick and roll. When the Warriors were at their peak, as much as I hate to cite them as an example, Thug Life Green had no problem stepping away, out to the three-point line, show and recover, active hands and active feet without fouling. Domas is underrated in this regard but our backup big and starting 4 TBD must possess this skill.    

One reason Jaren Jackson Jr led the NBA in blocks is freakish arm length in context of possessing agility and timing to challenge and swat. This is reflected in a differential between height and wingspan, creating the illusion of arms that go on forever. JJJ measures 6.9.75 barefoot with a wingspan of 7.5.25, a differential of 7.5 inches. Adem measured 6.8.25 barefoot with a wingspan of 7.3.75, also a differential of 7.5 inches!  

JJJ has an edge in terms of length (+1.5), while Adem is more explosive. He can chase down block and equally adept off one or two feet. JJJ had a block rate in his only year in college of 14.3% and PER of 27.  Adem has a block rate of 9.0 percent and PER of 22 over two seasons. Adem is described in one breakdown I watched as an “electrifying defensive powerhouse”.  

I heard on the Mismatch Podcast NO player has worked out for more teams than Adem. Damnit!  My sleeper is no longer so sleepy.  Adem will not last to #45 so perhaps we can attach Sasha or a future second round pick to move up and offer the same contract we offered to Colby Jones.

Adem is a better prospect than Trace Jackson Davis (6.8.25 barefoot / 7.1.0 wingspan) and TJD showed he belongs in the league.  There may be NO other team that needs a player like this. We don’t have this type of player. He’s worthy of an aggressive play that could turn out better than anyone at #13. Make me proud, Mc Semi-Genius. 

Regarding #13, pending trades are contingent upon who falls. What is the value of the pick?  Unknown, until we are on the Clock. It is worth a lot if a potential trade partner is coveting a certain player and he’s there. If he’s not there, the value is diminished and pending deals are off. Here is who is most likely Top 12 from my cursory analysis.  If one of these players slides to #13, that increases trade probability. In no specific order:

Zack Risacher
Ales Sarr
Donovan Clingan
Stephon Castle
Reed Sheppard
Devin Carter
Cody Williams
Dalton Knecht
Zack Edey
Rob Dillingham
Ron Holland
Matas Buzelis

You must be ready for every scenario of course but what our Front Office is going to do is be interested in watching the draft play out with reference to what a potential trade partner requires, secondarily concerned with who will be available to pick and keep.  Plan A is to trade the pick, contingent on Player X being available to Team X. For example, Holland is available at #13, coveted by Team X. You take him keep him and pat yourself on the back or you execute on a prearranged trade, for example, trading his draft rights for a Portis or Ingram.  Holland is decent and a bit of a project. He reminds me of DeMar DeRozan minus the middy.  He looks like a SG more than a SF.  Here is a quiz. Who is better?

Player A  20.6 PPG 6.6 RPG 3.2 ASST 2.5 SPG 3.0 TOV  57.6% TS% -13.6 Net Rating

Player B 19.8 PPG 7.7 RPG 4.5 APG 2.0 SPG 3.4 TOV 61% TS% +10.3 Net Rating

Player A is Holland and his G-League stats.

Player B is Colby Jones and his G-League stats. Yeah I get it Colby is much older player but it goes to show that a fringe rotational player, or one that did not prove he belongs in the NBA (yet), can post some gaudy stats in the G League.

murraytant
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June 25, 2024 1:06 pm
Reply to  kings4ever

I think Saluan and Topic are close to your top 12.
The #13 might have more value as leverage as you point out.
Toronto wants Edey. Somebody covets Dillingham, Topic, Saluan or Holland.
Portland wants Edey.
NYK have 24 and 25. Washington has 26. Suns want to move into second round for less expensive picks.
A player at 18-25 + an asset might be just as valuable or more valuable than #13. My fantasy is 13 and salary (HB?) to Washington for Kuzma and #26. or #13 to NYK for 24 , 25. There are a lot of guards in the 14-20 range who the Kings simply do not need.
Ke’el Ware ? looks like Gafford and Lively but thinks like WCS.

NorCalKingsFan
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June 25, 2024 1:48 pm
Reply to  kings4ever

Adem is an intriguing prospect and I think he could help the Kings on Def (great size, explosive jumper and good timing on blocks) but I do think he is securely a 2nd round prospect. I am concerned about his fit on offense, he won’t shoot even when wide open and his 69% FT doesn’t look like he’ll ever learn to shoot a respectable clip, he’s a poor rebounder for his size and physicality, he doesn’t pass and he fouls a lot. There aren’t many bigs I like in the 2nd round, but he could be one of them (I like Klintman, Mogbo, and Ighodaro more).

I understand your intent about comparing Jones and Holland, but all you did is convince me that I really like Holland (as I absolutely think Jones will be a very good NBA player). Also, I think the Net Rating comparison is lacking some context, the Stockton Kings were loaded with vets and were the best team in the G League while the Ignite were a dumpster fire of a team consisting almost entirely of 18yr olds that only won 6 games out of 50.

I don’t understand the shot at Monk and his defense, he’s a small G who is valued for his scoring and playmaking, what does that have to do with bigs available at 13?

Personally, Holland is my fav player in the draft. If he’s available at 13, I think we draft and keep him. Anyone else and I’m calling HOU for Eason, if that isn’t available, then I like Holmes.

Last edited 17 days ago by NorCalKingsFan
Hobby916
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June 25, 2024 1:54 pm
Reply to  NorCalKingsFan

I get the sense that there is some “lead up to the draft” shenanigans about Holland. Teams later in the draft tanking his value so he drops to them, or it is easier for them to move up and get him.

The shot is questionable for sure, but I like everything else he can bring to the court. He talked in an interview about how he just wanted to do what he could to help the team win. That is the mentality of a player that I like. (getting better at shooting would greatly help!)

NorCalKingsFan
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June 25, 2024 2:04 pm
Reply to  Hobby916

Yeah, I personally think he brings everything the Kings need mentally while also being a jack-of-all trades on the court with the major exception of shooting. He has a crazy high motor, all the intangibles, and he has that dawg in him that we’ve all be clamoring for someone in a Kings uni to exhibit. I see Holland as a more defensive-minded Jaylen Brown who can’t shoot nearly as well, but it’s his only real weakness and I think he can get better there.

I highly doubt he slips past OKC.

Hobby916
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June 25, 2024 2:09 pm
Reply to  NorCalKingsFan

I see him going to Memphis at 9. They have no real SF. Ziaire Williams has not panned out for them. GG Jackson was drafted last year and has done well, so pairing Holland, GG, and Jaren Jackson would give them a solid frontcourt.

murraytant
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June 25, 2024 7:22 pm
Reply to  Hobby916

Memphis wants to move up for Clingan

murraytant
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June 25, 2024 7:22 pm
Reply to  NorCalKingsFan

OKC is all over the place: Dillingham, Topic, the other Williams….
I would take Holland if he fell and he is the only one of the drops who I would take.

UpgradedToQuestionable
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June 25, 2024 12:56 pm

And that is a good part of how the best scouts and the best GMs find the best prospects.

The interview shouldn’t be taken lightly. (As is my usual and customary flight to free associate – How marvelous would a collection of interview highlight/lowlights and workouts of various of the draft picks be? Ricky Rubio’s Mom cut his steak, workouts with a chair (recall Chairman Yi JianLian?), the clever and smart ones (last TKH Podcast, the Great Jerry Reynolds reminisced about how much he enjoyed Jrue Holliday). I wonder how Hassan Whiteside’s interview was (recall he went to the combine in flip flops for his height measurement).

Anyhoo – Personality, in it’s various forms, can be a driving force or deceptive bluff. Look at Keegan Murray for Sac, and how was that interview with Kawhi Leonard or Tim Duncan?

Ron Holland apparently has “the intensity gene” and apparently, Kel’el (is this a Superman reference?) Ware does not. DeAndre Ayton 2.0?

If Ware is at all immature or doesn’t have “the passion” he is more a negative at #13 than the financial gamble. And paying someone an enormous sum of cash often does not ignite more will to love the game.

who knows? He might be awesome. Draft Day tomorrow!!

NorCalKingsFan
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June 25, 2024 1:19 pm

I agree, a player’s mentality cannot be minimized as it can be the lone difference between them being good vs great.

jlandweh
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June 25, 2024 1:56 pm

I’ve kinda settled on…much like most here. If the picks are not moved as part of a trade (which I hope they are traded),

#13 – Daron Holmes or Ron Holland
#45 – Adem Bona or Ulrich Comche

kgdobter
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June 25, 2024 6:19 pm
Reply to  jlandweh

Ulrich Comche would be an excellent pick at 45. Lots of upside and very athletic. Put him in the G league for a couple of years and you might have a very good player.

murraytant
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June 25, 2024 7:24 pm
Reply to  jlandweh

Bona will not fall to 45 but he would be good. How about Oso?

Kingofkings2410
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June 25, 2024 2:27 pm

Ware gives me some AD vibes. He can shoot, he has length-shot blocking ability, back to the basket moves (especially turning over his left shoulder fadeaways, which are extremely difficult, he actually shoots that too much. more difficult than turning over his right shoulder, he should be able to learn that as a counter move. He shoots the 3 pretty good. I actually like him more than other PFs in this draft. I was leaning towards Holmes but I believe ware is a better fit next to domas. We shall see

vestxpress
June 25, 2024 3:59 pm

Hard no for me. That 3 point percentage is a fluke. His free throw percentage tells the real story with his shooting.

kgdobter
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June 25, 2024 6:00 pm
Reply to  vestxpress

Good point!

Kingofkings2410
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June 25, 2024 7:28 pm
Reply to  vestxpress

There have been a number of players with great fg and 3point percentage but were below average at free throws. I don’t think that is a determinant factor on if his 3pt shot is legit or not. It looks fluid and repeatable enough to me

Kingofkings2410
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June 25, 2024 7:31 pm
Reply to  vestxpress

And I would rather see a player try and get his ft percentage up and perfected.
rather than having to improve a terrible jump shot/ and trying to increase ones 3pt percentage increase

eddie41
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June 26, 2024 11:51 am

no thanks

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