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Mock Draft Review: Could Precious Achiuwa Fit with the Kings Big Goals?

The Athletic's Sam Vecenie mocked Precious Achiuwa to the Kings. Our Bryant West breaks down that choice.

As the Sacramento Kings prepare for games to resume in late July, Luke Walton re-opened an self-inflicted organizational wound when he said the team views second year big man Marvin Bagley as €œa position-less type of player€ down the road, as chronicled by our own Richard Ivanowski in an excellent article for the Sacramento Bee. This is a long-standing party line that Vlade Divac first uttered back at the 2018 Draft; it's a foolish argument that, as Richard points out, does no good for anybody besides those who want to laugh at the Kangzy Kings. Marvin is at most a two position big-man, and I've long argued that Bagley's best long-term position is as a center. But could this €œposition-less€ train of thought actually impact how the Kings approach the 2020 NBA Draft?

Sam Vecenie of the Athletic released a 60 player mock on Wednesday ($) and selected Memphis big Precious Achiuwa for the Kings at pick 12. (Side note: Vecenie's coverage of college basketball and the NBA Draft is second to none, and is a top reason to have an Athletic subscription.) Here is a trimmed version of Vecenie's rationale for the pick, in which he linked Richard's Sac Bee article:

An important part of understanding why I've projected this is recognizing that the Kings see Marvin Bagley as a positionless player who can play all across the frontcourt rather than a center. Personally, I see Bagley's best position as being center. I also see Achiuwa's best position as being center. But if you take the Kings' point of view on this, it's easy to see how they could feel the center position is a priority. They tried to sign Dewayne Dedmon last summer before being forced to deal him this spring due to ineffectiveness. They got great minutes out of Richaun Holmes, who looks like a potential low-end starting center over the next four years. However, he's only signed for one more season after this one ends. On the wing, they have Harrison Barnes and Buddy Hield signed long-term, with the Bogdan Bogdanovic restricted free agency set to be the biggest decision of their summer. They're obviously set at point guard with De'Aaron Fox. Given those facts, it's actually pretty easy to see how, in the galaxy brain that is the Kings' leadership group, they could come to the conclusion that center is their biggest need.

Following this logic, it's hard to argue that the Kings €˜galaxy brain', as Vecenie puts it, could conceivably consider another young center with their 1st round pick. That said, if Walton and the Kings truly think that Bagley can play across the frontcourt, they have yet to prove it on the court, where it matters. Across his injury-limited playing time this season, Bagley spent a whopping 88% of his minutes as the center, according to Cleaning the Glass. Bagley also spent significant time during the shutdown bulking up in order to play against bigger centers. If Walton and the Kings are planning for Marvin to primarily be a forward, they haven't shown it yet.

But even if the Kings do think that Bagley is more a power forward, I don't fully see the logic in drafting Precious Achiuwa. Achiuwa is a strong switchable defensive prospect and one of the better rim protectors in the draft class; if his profile ended there, he could be considered a solid pick since Bagley has yet to prove himself as a switchable defender OR a rim protector. But Achiuwa's path to offensive success - as Vecenie and I both agree - is to primarily play as a rim-running big. Unless Bagley turns into a dynamic distance shooter - I'm more optimistic than most, but let's not kid ourselves - adding another middling shooting prospect like Precious (32% on 40 3PA, and 28% on all half-court jumpshots, per Synergy Sports) would clog the paint and driving lanes, and leave the Kings two bigs of the future stimed in offensive redundancy. I'd rather the Kings look to bolster their small forward rotation, which I consider their clearest positional need, or at least look for centers with more proven outside shooting abilities (Jalen Smith, anyone?). Indeed, I'd argue that the signing of Dwayne Dedmon last summer had just as much to do with his once-regarded-soon-departed shooting ability as it did his center position. The Kings cannot afford to draft another big who isn't a guaranteed floor spacer. 

With the Kings three 2nd Round picks, Vecenie mocks the Kings to draft Mississippi State wing Robert Woodard, San Diego State point Malachi Flynn, and Gonzaga big Killian Tillie. While I disagree with Vecenie's selection of Achiuwa, Sacramento would be exceptionally fortunate if they aced the 2nd round like this. Woodard is a legitimate 3-and-D prospect, Flynn would be an excellent backup to De'Aaron Fox, and Tillie has long been one of my favorite targets for the Kings. 

 

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RobHessing
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July 14, 2020 5:43 pm

Precious Achiuwa?comment image?w=1000&h=600&crop=1

SanjeshSingh
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July 14, 2020 6:30 pm
Reply to  RobHessing

If the Kings draft Killian, he’ll be Tillie Cauley-Stein

TheBufferZone
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July 14, 2020 6:18 pm

You know I’m all about Jalen Smith!
 
Find a team to trade down with & grab him in the 20s while getting something else in the trade (draft capital, player, etc).

Sacto_J
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July 15, 2020 10:24 am
Reply to  TheBufferZone

You do realize Vlade is still our GM, right?

BestHyperboleEver
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July 15, 2020 10:41 am
Reply to  TheBufferZone

Heck, you might be able to get him at 35.
 
Not that I would. But I’ve seen mocks, including the Vecenie mock referenced, that have him going post-35.

Adamsite
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Nostradumbass 14
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July 14, 2020 7:08 pm

Honest question..what does Achiuwa do that Holmes does not?

RobHessing
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July 14, 2020 7:18 pm
Reply to  Adamsite

Play for cheap for the next four years.

Adamsite
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Nostradumbass 14
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July 14, 2020 7:28 pm
Reply to  RobHessing

Bird in hand…I’d rather pay Holmes.

RobHessing
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July 14, 2020 7:41 pm
Reply to  Adamsite

Me too.

kgdobter
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July 14, 2020 8:10 pm
Reply to  RobHessing

Me three!

BestHyperboleEver
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July 15, 2020 9:58 am
Reply to  Adamsite

Depends on how much you’re going to pay him. Precious should (emphasis on should) be able to defend the perimeter a bit better. He may end up a better outside shooter as well. He doesn’t have Holmes’ touch but his shot isn’t broken, while Holmes really needs to make decently major mechanical changes IF he ever wants to be consistent from deep.
 
I’m not a fan of picking Achiuwa here, but he, like Holmes, has a useful (if not especially high ceiling). If everything breaks right he’s very Jerami Grant-y. Which is a really nice player to have on a team-friendly first and maybe second contract. But, again, that’s if everything breaks right.

Klam
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Nostradumbass 19
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July 14, 2020 8:25 pm

Practice footage:
 

RORDOG
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July 14, 2020 8:44 pm
Reply to  Klam

Walton looks like a Hare Krishna.

MichaelMack
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July 14, 2020 9:18 pm
Reply to  RORDOG

Wandering around wondering who has all that tape he was supposed to watch

Shaqramento
July 14, 2020 9:00 pm

While it’s not my favorite pick, I don’t think I’d hate it. With a late lottery pick in a weak draft, I think finding a quality rotation player is a good get. I see people talking about his fit with Bagley and Holmes, but neither of those guys are guaranteed to be here in the future no matter what we wish. With that being said, I’m leaning towards higher potential guys like Nesmith, Patrick Williams or even the euro big. IF Precious develops his shot, he can be an excellent pro.

Sacto_J
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July 15, 2020 10:30 am

I would hope that the FO sees the need for wing players at this point considering Walton’s penchant for sticking Barnes at the 4 and Bjeli at 5. Granted, a lot of that came after Holmes’ injury.
If we’re going to play a bunch of small ball wouldn’t it be prudent to find wings who can handle and shoot vs. bigs who’s main offensive contribution is rim running? Seems like we have a couple of those already…

BestHyperboleEver
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July 15, 2020 10:38 am
Reply to  Sacto_J

Even if we didn’t have rim-runners already, wings that can handle and shoot (the finding of which is easier said than done) are simply more valuable, useful, and generally more versatile. Ultimately, I think Precious is a lot like a Jermani Grant (or Barnes though not in present skill set) in that he may be played anywhere from 3-5 based on the rotations. A guy like Saddiq Bey for example, while much more of a handler/shooter, ultimately probably plays the same “positions” as Achiuwa.
 
All that said, we should remember that there’s a decent chance most if not all of Bjelica, Holmes, Giles, & Len will be gone by the time a 2020 late-lottery draft pick is really ready to contribute positively. Assuming they ever are.
 

Last edited 2 years ago by BestHyperboleEver
RORDOG
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July 15, 2020 11:34 am

My grand unifying Bagley positional theory is that he’s currently without a position, and the goal is to make him versatile enough to play alongside traditional centers, stretch 4/5s and big wings. Basically, they realize a unicorn is not walking through that door, so they need to teach him how to be a complimentary player to various archetypes.
 
So is the goal for Bagley to be positionless in the traditional sense of the word? No. Do they believe they are actively harming his development by not pigeonholing Bagley at center? Also, no.
 
I just think they believe that for Bagley to be successful he’ll need to be able to guard 3/4s, 4/5s and traditional Centers, but also be a player on offensive that can rim run, play in the PnR, Spot up, and handle the ball more away from the basket.
 
So they don’t envision he’ll be a Big Wing, Stretch 4, or Rim Running 5. They hope he’ll develop into a Versatile Big who can excel in a frontcourt with Barnes, Bjelica, or Holmes essentially.

BestHyperboleEver
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July 15, 2020 1:13 pm

SIDENOTE: It looks like Xavier Tillman is heading back to MSU.

NBALensface
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July 15, 2020 1:39 pm

He’s be terrific in Sacramento

ForKingsandCountry
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July 15, 2020 2:08 pm

I think BHE already mentioned this but just in general, I want wings over bigs all day every day. Seriously taking big men unless they are absolutely transcendent on defense just feels like a waste of time. At this point I don’t even care if they reach or trade back or trade out entirely (my preferred option this year) as long as they take some who maybe could do develop into a wing that can make plays for other people. That is by far the most valuable thing you can have. If they swing and miss on guys like that I would be ok with it.

BestHyperboleEver
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July 15, 2020 3:11 pm

Wings are generally more versatile and provide more roster and rotation flexibility all things considered. But obviously, I’ll take a playmaking big over a role-playing wing. As you mention, a big playmaking wing is kind of the the ideal player. But there aren’t that many of those around. In this draft, your list of “guys that might be able to create for others with wing-ish size (let’s say, 6’6 and up) and mobility” that we’re seeing often projected in the first round is pretty much limited to Okoro, Avdija, Pokusevski, and Bolmaro. Obviously, with varying strengths, weaknesses and likelihood of developing. Second rounders and sleepers would include guys like: N’Doye, Queen, maybe Chris Smith. The point being, there aren’t many of those guys. And they all have BIG question marks.
 
Personally, I agree and would still target those guys since I think, if they DO work out, those players are much more valuable, hard to come by, and, therefore much more difficult to acquire from another team or as a FA. On the other hand, picking up a viable rim-running big (like Holmes) or a nominal “3-and-D” wing (like Barnes) isn’t all that difficult. Heck, even the Kings were able to do it.
 

Last edited 2 years ago by BestHyperboleEver

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