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Mock Draft Review: Aaron Nesmith would fit in Sacramento

Sam Vecenie has his latest mock draft out, so our resident draft expert reviews Vecenie's picks for the Kings.

The Sacramento Kings aren’t talented enough to overthink the 2020 NBA Draft. In my first 2020 Draft Big Board last week, I argued that the Kings should draft the best player available (BPA) at each of their four picks and be done with it; position and fit are secondary to talent, especially in a volatile draft class. That said, the Kings biggest positional need has pretty much remained the same for a decade; can he play small forward?

Bogdan Bogdanovic and Buddy Hield are the Kings second and third best players, respectively, but both are size challenged at the 3 spot. Meanwhile, Harrison Barnes played more at power forward than small forward this past year, per Cleaning the Glass. Luckily for the Kings, I think this is a sneakily solid class of wings and forwards. 

Deni Avdija and Isaac Okoro are lottery locks, while Devin Vassell, Saddiq Bey, Patrick Williams, and Josh Green all deserve consideration for a late-lottery selection on my Big Board. The top-end draft talent in this draft class is weaker than normal, which would probably leave these guys selected later in a normal draft classbut that’s more an indictment on the top of the draft. Assuming the Kings’ selection remains in the late lotto, every one of Vassell, Bey, Williams, or Green would offer up talents the Kings rebuild could really use. 

Another wing who should be in that conversation is Aaron Nesmith, a 6’6” sophomore out of Vanderbilt. Sam Vecenie of the Athletic released a 60 player mock on Wednesday($) and selected Nesmith for the Kings at No. 12. Vecenie noted the Kings need for wing help, and said that many evaluators across the league have Nesmith as the No. 2 wing in the class.

(Side note: Vecenie’s coverage of college basketball and the NBA Draft is a Tier 1 reason to have an Athletic subscription. His coverage of the draft is second to none.) 

It isn’t hard to make the case for Nesmith. The 20 year old was having a statistically absurd shooting season at Vanderbilt before a foot injury in January ended his campaign. Nesmith shot 52.2% from deep with over 8.2 attempts per game, and proved he could hit shots both off the dribble and off the catch. Per Synergy, Nesmith shot 54.2% on catch-and-shoot shots in the halfcourt, and was the most efficient C&S player among D1 players last season with 50 or more such possessions. Of all of the wings and forwards I mentioned earlier, Nesmith is in my book the best shooting prospect. He’s an insane movement shooter who could provide a ton of gravity at the next level. 

I’m not as high on the rest of Nesmith’s offensive game. While Vanderbilt didn’t ask him to be much of a secondary playmaker, Nesmith attempted 16 field goals per 40 minutes, but averaged just 1 assist. That certainly can’t continue for a modern NBA wing. And while I wouldn’t call him a high-end defender in the same vein as Okoro or Vassell, Nesmith was engaged defensively across most of the games I’ve watched, and his extra-long wingspan (reportedly 6’10”) gives him range as a help-defender. 

For some quick highlight scouting, Nesmith’s second half explosion against Okoro and the Auburn Tigers from January is worth watching. He shows off both his shooting touch (and a bit of luck) against a top-tier defense squad, while also flashing some solid help defense moments. 

With the Kings three 2nd round selections, Vecenie mocked Duke center Vernon Carey Jr. at No. 35, Kentucky guard Immanuel Quickley at No. 43, and Gonzaga forward Killian Tillie at No. 53.

Carey’s strength, size, and low-post skill led to great success at Duke17.8 points, 8.8 rebounds, and All-ACC honorsbut his lack of range on offense, coupled with real defensive limitations, make him a poor fit on both ends in the modern NBA landscape. I had Carey Jr. as No. 30 on my Big Board last week, but after watching some other big men on my watch list, I won’t have him in the first round of my next update. 

Quickley, the 2019-20 SEC Player of the Year, averaged 16.1 points per game last season while shooting 40.9% from deep and 92.3% from the line. His ability to hit shots off the dribble and off the catch was key to Kentucky’s spacing, considering the Wildcats were a pretty poor shooting team. But as Vecenie notes, the big concern about Quickley is what he can provide outside of his shot; the 6’3 guard averaged just 2.3 assists per 40 minutes. That wasn’t his job for the Wildcats, who relied on Tyrese Maxey and Ashton Hagans to run the offense while Quickley provided spacing, but Quickley will have to provide value beyond his shot to stick in the NBA. That said, it would be fun to see the Kings select a speedster from Kentucky to back up their speedster from Kentucky. 

Finally, I’ve been a longtime fan of Killian Tillie, despite my collegiate allegiances (Saint Mary’s!). He sits 20th on my Big Board, although I expect most rational decision makers will have him much lower. The big question for Tillie’s NBA success is simple: can he stay healthy? Tillie has flashed 1st-round-level talent for three seasons now, but he’s suffered numerous leg injuries and played just 39 games over the last two years. Still, he’s an excellent deep shooter, sinking 44% of his career threes while also providing heads-up, high-IQ team defense. Considering the Kings have three 2nd round picks, gambling on Tillie’s talent would be a smart decision.

 

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Greg
Admin
April 30, 2020 10:24 am

Watched some of his highlights as a result of this article, and I really liked what I saw. Knockdown shooter for sure. I also like his physicality on screen. And he seems to at least have good awareness defensively.

BestHyperboleEver
April 30, 2020 10:28 am

I’m having trouble getting past my 2020 draft class doldrums. I don’t think the weakness is just at the top. I think the entire class is made up of guys that in an average draft would be considered late-1st guys at best. Some would theoretically be fits for the Kings. If we’re to assume Fox and Bagley are the tent poles, then the spacing from guys like Buddy and Nesmith and theoretical-floor-spacing-big are essential. But that team is still going to sorely lack playmaking and defense. Also, Bogdan and Nesmith are the same size. So if Bogdan’s size is an issue at the 3, then Nesmith doesn’t help in that regard.

Ultimately, I think the best rationale for drafting Nesmith is that you’re planning on trading Hield. Which, I guess could be an element of a plan I could get behind. I’d just have to see the rest of the plan.

Adamsite
Nostradumbass 14
Nostradumbass 14
April 30, 2020 11:11 am

I can’t even wrap my head around a possible trade for Buddy right now. Who currently needs his skill set at his price AND can offer the Kings fair compensation?

BestHyperboleEver
April 30, 2020 11:14 am
Reply to  Adamsite

I think he’s a clear fit in Philly and Brooklyn. Probably more if I think about it.

Adamsite
Nostradumbass 14
Nostradumbass 14
April 30, 2020 11:18 am

I definitely think they can use him. Most teams can use a dead eye shooter. The problem in my mind is the ability to absorb his $24M and getting the Kings fair return. Neither Philly or Brooklyn can currently do that.

BestHyperboleEver
April 30, 2020 11:44 am
Reply to  Adamsite

They don’t have to absorb it. They have contracts to match. It’s just a matter of finding mixes and matches that work. For Philly it probably includes either Horford or a combination of Richardson, Scott, and a young player or two. For BKN, it probably includes at least one of Prince, Levert, & Dinwiddie.

Adamsite
Nostradumbass 14
Nostradumbass 14
April 30, 2020 12:10 pm

I don’t see how Brooklyn can get the numbers to match. Just Prince, LeVert, and Dinwiddie doesn’t get it done from a financial point, and I don’t see them giving up their entire bench for Buddy. As to Philly, again it would take at least 4 roll players to get salaries to match. The only one I see there is Hroford, and it would be so Kangz to trade for a high priced player on the decline in exchange for a player reaching his prime.

BestHyperboleEver
April 30, 2020 12:26 pm
Reply to  Adamsite

I suspect you’re looking at Prince and Levert’s 2019-20 salaries. Both Prince and Levert signed extensions that kick in next year. Prince’s is 2/29 and Levert’s is 3/52.5. So a deal with BRK isn’t so difficult.
As for Philly, personally, I’d have no problem taking on Horford assuming he came with enough other compensation. We obviously aren’t just talking about Hield for Horford straight up. But if you really don’t want to take Horford regardless of what comes with him, I’d have no problem with building something around Richardson and Scott assuming it also included a good young player (like Thybulle/Milton) and a pick or two. Even a guys like Zhaire Smith or Korkmaz (who I’m not all that high on) have a place on a roster that currently includes players like Ferrell and James.

Adamsite
Nostradumbass 14
Nostradumbass 14
May 1, 2020 8:20 am

Ahhh, you are right. I didn’t see Levert and Prince’s extensions. They do have quite q bit to work with there.

Adamsite
Nostradumbass 14
Nostradumbass 14
April 30, 2020 12:20 pm

I actually think two other teams could be in the market for a starting SG, and can afford to absorb his deal: Memphis and Charlotte.

Memphis does it to get a shooter next to Morant and can send back something like Winslow and Anderson. Kings get wing depth. Memphis could also send Dieng, filler and a pick or two to make it work. If the Kings could get Winslow, that would be great.

The Hornets are going to invest in Graham as the PG of the future and could send Rozier and filler. Kings get a solid combo guard off the bench at a cheaper price than Buddy. This would also allow the Kings to move Joesph if need be.

BestHyperboleEver
April 30, 2020 12:30 pm
Reply to  Adamsite

Rozier better come with at least one decent pick attached. The Memphis deal is kinda interesting.

Adamsite
Nostradumbass 14
Nostradumbass 14
May 1, 2020 8:24 am

Yeah, if the Kings could get Winslow I’d be thrilled. He’s basically a point wing that can play and guard 4 positions. With the emergence of Brandon Clarke on the wing, they might be more willing to move Winslow if it got them Buddy.

BestHyperboleEver
May 1, 2020 9:10 am
Reply to  Adamsite

I would assume they want to keep Winslow and see what they have. There isn’t really any reason he and Clarke can’t play together. Ultimately, maybe as soon as next year, JJJ is going to be play primarily C. I would guess, if they want a shooter, they’d be more like to move Valanciunis for them. Or drafting someone like Nesmith.

The only real issue with Winslow is that he has trouble staying on the court. Out of 5 seasons he’s essentially missed 2 full seasons and only reach 70 games in one.

BestHyperboleEver
May 1, 2020 9:15 am

For what it’s worth, Okoro is getting a lot of Winslow comps.

Adamsite
Nostradumbass 14
Nostradumbass 14
May 1, 2020 9:44 am

I’ve seen that, but I’m not sure he’ll be there at #12. If he is, I’m cool with the Kings taking him.

BestHyperboleEver
April 30, 2020 11:12 am

Looking a Vecenie’s mock, if I were to actually make picks at those slots, I’d probably do with:
12. My pick: Poku (I’m absolutely hunting upside here. He’s a big risk, but I think anybody else there has his ceiling.)
Sam’s pick: Nesmith. Fine. Whatever. He’s another 4-8 rotation ceiling guy like the rest of the Kings. I don’t think more of those guys are going to make a difference. Nor do I think they’re difficult to pick up on the cheap elsewhere.

35. My pick: Paul Reed. I’m a BIG fan of Siakam. Paul is the closest thing we’ve seen. I kind of fetishize guys that were perimeter players early in life before hitting a late growth spurt like Reed. He’s a high motor player who is an impact multi-position defender from day one with signs of ability to handle and shoot. Personally, I’d probably put him above most of those SF’s being mocked in the mid-teens.
Sam’s pick: Carey Jr. Yeah, I just don’t think his upside outcome is all that useful in the modern NBA.

43: My Pick: Riller/Flynn. Just ballers. No specific fit. I just think they’re bargains here. Though I’d be REALLY tempted to go with another upside lottery ticket with N’Doye.
Sam’s Pick: Quickley. Eh. I’m fine with it. You’re kinda betting on his playmaking being restricted by his role.

53: My Pick: I think Tillie is a good pick here. Personally, I may go for Maker here. He has some mindset questions, but his flashes of handle, passing, and shooting from his frame is well worth taking at 53 and stashing towards the end of the roster or on a two-way (if he’ll take it.)

TonyXypteras
Admin
April 30, 2020 1:10 pm

Paul Reed in the 2nd round would be awesome. I’m not sure he lasts that long.

BestHyperboleEver
April 30, 2020 1:28 pm
Reply to  TonyXypteras

I’m not sure either. But it’s so hard to know. The mocks this year are all over the board. You have respected draft guys with discrepancies like Kira Lewis going 13 in Vecenie’s mock and 39th in Givony’s. Or even Toppin going 5th Vecenie’s and 14th in Givony’s. Givony has guys going in the 1st that Vecenie doesn’t have being drafted at all.

So I think it’s going to be really hard to accurately guess where your guy will go. Which either means reaching for him to ensure you get him, or having a much longer, looser list of “your guy.” For me it’s the second. There are guys I like, but not many I’d be upset about missing out on.

richie88
April 30, 2020 2:28 pm

What guys would you be upset about missing out on if they’re available when the Kings pick?

BestHyperboleEver
April 30, 2020 2:53 pm
Reply to  richie88

At 12? I don’t know. Probably just Hayes, Halliburton, Avdija. There are a lot of guys that I would just shrug at. There are guys that, if for some reason they’re there, they should probably take like Edwards, Ball, Wiseman, Toppin, Okongwu, but I wouldn’t be upset if they didn’t. I predict my response to their draft moves are a big shrug.

Greg
Admin
April 30, 2020 11:21 am

Nesmith and Bogi are the same height, but Nesmith has a much bigger wingspan which should allow him to guard bigger players

BestHyperboleEver
April 30, 2020 11:23 am
Reply to  Greg

Bogi’s reported wingspan is 6’11. The speculation on Nesmith is 7’0.

BestHyperboleEver
April 30, 2020 12:08 pm

For what it’s worth (little to nothing) the very few and very substantiated reports I can find on Nesmith’s wingspan put it at 6’10.

BestHyperboleEver
April 30, 2020 2:22 pm

Sorry, that should have said “UNsubstantiated”

Amonk81
May 1, 2020 2:43 pm

Side note—- all the draft talk reminds me how horrible the Bagely pick was. Unless he learns how to shoot he is semi useless. He won’t. Very questionable if he’ll learn D or passing either. I wish they’d just move on. Still hate Vlade et al…..

BestHyperboleEver
May 1, 2020 3:47 pm
Reply to  Amonk81

Not to defend the pick, but I don’t think he’ll be useless. Just more of a situational fringe starter/role players. He’ll almost certainly be a high level rebounder and rim-runner with a bit of weak side rim protection. Which means he’s probably already overpaid, which is never good in the 2nd year of your rookie deal, but not useless.

Adamsite
Nostradumbass 14
Nostradumbass 14
April 30, 2020 10:40 am

I would put it at darn near 100% that the Kings don’t walk away with 4 rookies from this draft. Aren’t they rumored to be thinking they don’t want to get younger but would prefer to compete now and build with what they have?

To add, the Kings right now have 9 players under contract for next season, with Parker at a PO (which I assume he’ll opt into) and Nemaja at a TO (which the Kings had better pick up). Bogi is likely back as a RFA, so that makes 10 rostered players. All of this doesn’t count the UFA’s they may want back like Bazemore, Len and Giles. The Kings will also have cap space in free agency, assuming they spend above the cap to re-sign Bogi.

From this, I’d put money coming out of the draft with no more than 2 players. They’ll be a player on the trade market and hopefully get some future assets in compensation for their picks. Sadly, I feel we may see the return of “Cash Considerations” with some of those picks. Would it shock anyone that they may trade back in the first round of this draft in exchange for monetary compensation? With the revenue loss from this season, it wouldn’t surprise me to see quite a few small market teams sell off some picks.

Aykis16
Admin
Nostradumbass 13
Nostradumbass 13
April 30, 2020 10:45 am
Reply to  Adamsite

I think packaging some of these picks to move up for a slightly better pick might be a good idea. As you say, we just don’t have the room to use all these picks effectively.

Adamsite
Nostradumbass 14
Nostradumbass 14
April 30, 2020 11:00 am
Reply to  Aykis16

I really wonder if the Kings have the kind of trustworthy judgement to move up in a draft for a player they really want. I honestly can’t recall the last time the Kings ever moved up in a draft via trade. Have they ever in the Sacramento era? It seems to me they trade down in drafts more often than anything. If they feel this draft kind of plateaus in talent from the mid lottery to end of the first round, they I think they will definitely trade down. Even if they don’t I fully expect them to sell off two of those 2nd round picks or use them on a Euro stash.

RikSmits
April 30, 2020 11:10 am
Reply to  Adamsite

Cash Considerations FTW!

BestHyperboleEver
April 30, 2020 11:54 am
Reply to  Adamsite

I absolutely agree that this is a good trade down draft. I’m not seeing guys mocked around 12 that are much more interesting than guys mocked at the end of the round to into the second. As I mentioned, for example, Vecenie has Reed going 40th. And I personally, don’t think he’s any less of a prospect than guys like Nesmith and Okoro and Vassell.

BestHyperboleEver
April 30, 2020 11:47 am
Reply to  Aykis16

Or try to trade them into the future.

BestHyperboleEver
April 30, 2020 11:46 am
Reply to  Adamsite

Euro stashes are always an option when you need to add talent to the org but don’t want to use the cash or roster space immediately. Not to mention, simply getting the band back together probably isn’t a great plan. They should absolutely be looking to make some moves.

ForKingsandCountry
May 1, 2020 10:02 am
Reply to  Adamsite

I kind of want them to try and move this year’s pick for a pick in 2021 or 2022. I don’t think I’ve seen one prospect mocked to them at 12 that interests me at all. All these guys just seem like bench rotation pieces and I don’t think that’s going to help the Kings all that much. If they can trade the pick for a player and get decent value that’s great but the next couple drafts look a lot better than this one to me.

BestHyperboleEver
May 1, 2020 11:08 am

Yeah, I would absolutely see if I could trade for a future pick plus, hopefully, a later 1st or a player. Ideally something like Bazley and one of OKC’s two 2021 firsts (they get the two best of theirs, MIA’s, and HOU’s). Or this year’s (from DEN, pick 25 currently) and the more favorable 2022 1st (OKC or LAC).

ForKingsandCountry
May 1, 2020 12:12 pm

Yeah I would do something like that in a heartbeat. I continue to believe (as I know you do as well) that this team isn’t going to meaningfully improve on offense until they get more play-makers. Right now it’s Fox, Bogi and quite literally nothing else except sort of Bjelly from time to time.

RikSmits
April 30, 2020 11:09 am

Kings need a guy with high upside, and hope that he’ll pan out. We are just that much deficient in raw talent. Downside is, we are bad at developing players.

Anyway, that point is moot because Vlade is fighting for his job and will probably pick a guy who he thinks can contribute immediately and help the team to win a few more games to vie for that 8th spot. He will most likely choose unwisely.

Dirkula
April 30, 2020 12:35 pm

“ The 20 year old was having a statistically absurd shooting season at Vanderbilt before a foot injury in January ended his campaign.”

Sounds like he will fit right in!

RobHessing
April 30, 2020 2:47 pm
Reply to  Dirkula

Obligatory, hat tip to adamsite:comment image

MyHumbleOpinion
April 30, 2020 1:19 pm

Nesmith looks good, but he looks like a 2 guard/smallish wing player. In a draft that is mediocre at best in talent, I would rather they draft a guy that is more of a small forward size(6’8″-6’9″), like Bey or Williams. They are thin in that area. Usually I’m all for best available player. But when the Kings draft at around #12, I think the best player available may not be all that good in this draft.

BestHyperboleEver
April 30, 2020 1:38 pm

Want a real deep sleeper at SF? Go for N’Doye in the 2nd round. 6’7, 7’2 wingspan, athletic lead ballhandler for his team in France. Obviously, he’s a 22-year-old with holes in his game. But if you’re going to bet on a profile it’s not a bad one.

MyHumbleOpinion
April 30, 2020 5:54 pm

Nice! I will have to go look him up. I was just thinking that if your going to take a flyer on someone, why not someone that fits an area of need. I like what I saw in Justin James. He has potential. Maybe the the FO has their eye on someone, or 2 or 3 someones. We can only hope.

BestHyperboleEver
May 5, 2020 11:58 am

Another deep sleeper if he declares is Kessler Edwards from Pepperdine.

King4life
April 30, 2020 1:35 pm

I have no idea who the Kings will draft but I am 99% confident that it’ll be the wrong pick.

RobHessing
April 30, 2020 1:36 pm
Reply to  King4life

#Affront Office, #Mockery Draft

ForKingsandCountry
May 1, 2020 10:04 am
Reply to  King4life

That sounds like something we can all agree on!

kgdobter
April 30, 2020 7:37 pm

We have bad picks in a bad draft, so what else is new…

TheBufferZone
May 1, 2020 1:44 am

Jalen Smith. He’s mostly been projected late 1st Round, but he’s who I’d want. 6’-10”, 215, averaged 15.5 pts, 10.5 rbds, is a big rim protector, & hits outside shots. Only player in the country with 60 blocks & 30 3-pointers. 1 of only 6 players to average at least 10 rebounds, 2 blocks, and a 3-pointer since 1992 (and his competition was tougher than the other 5). If the Final Four took place, he probably would’ve worked his way into being a Top 10 pick. He’ll be the steal of the draft.

ForKingsandCountry
May 1, 2020 10:08 am

I honestly don’t see any prospects in this draft that are all that exciting. Avdija would be interesting but in terms of first round talent, this draft is the ultimate shoulder shrug to me. At least last year there was Zion and Ja who you’d reasonably assume would be solid but this year it seems like a draft of all late first round guys.

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