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Would you rather: Draft for ceiling or for safety?

Should the Kings swing for the fences or play it safe with their lottery pick?

With the NBA Draft fast approaching, the Sacrameno Kings have some interesting decisions in front of them. Their roster is a bit of a contradictory mess, chock-full of overpaid veterans despite not being near playoff contention, yet the team is also considered to be in a rebuild status, as De'Aaron Fox is the only surefire young piece on the depth chart. And then there's Marvin Bagley, who after two years in a Kings uniform is still an injury-riddled bust or a potential All-Star depending on who you're speaking to and what part of his career is being evaluated.

For a team like Sacramento, their first priority over the next couple of seasons should be to find a complimentary, young star to place next to Fox, who desperately needs help on the court. However, the chances of finding such a player with the 12th pick are rather slim in such a weak draft. In fact, the only player who really represents a potential homerun for the Kings is Aleksej Pokusevski, a seven-footer who can theoretically do a bit of everything on the floor, but who also weighs less than your average shooting guard and hasn't proven himself against any level of competition. If Monte McNair gambles on Poku, he's hoping to acquire some odd combination of Lamar Odom and Kristaps Porzingis, but there's a much higher chance that the Kings will find themselves with nothing more than the next edition of Dragan Bender. Outside of LaMelo Ball, Pokusevski is probably the lowest floor, highest ceiling player, and with the unimpressive nature of the 2020 class, there's something to be said for swinging for the fences in a draft full of probable bench players and low-end starters.

Conversely, the Kings could also play things much safer and acquire a contributor that is much more guaranteed to make it in the league. For years, the franchise has not only suffered from missing out on superstars in the high lottery; it's also been hurt by failing to find players at even a role player level with later selections. Malachi Richardson, Skal Labissiere, Justin Jackson, and Harry Giles (Yes, I said Harry), are all perfect illustrations of first round investments who've never proven themselves worthy of twenty minutes per game on a good team, and that lack of mid-tier, young assets has consistently hurt the team not only on the court, but also in the trade market. The inability to bridge potential deals with promising, rookie-scale talent has left the kings out of plenty of potential transactions, leaving them to offer second round picks, overpaid veterans, and cap space - much less attractive options.

This particular draft, while low in superstar talent, is full of lower-ceiling, high-floor prospects. Tyrese Maxey, Kira Lewis Jr., and Saddiq Bey are all unlikely to ever don an All-Star jersey or even place as a top-10 player at their particular position, but they've also demonstrated at least one definitive NBA skill in their individual collegiate seasons. The Kings would almost be guaranteeing themselves to not find a second star, but they would also be guaranteeing themselves not to waste their lottery pick on another non-contributor either. Finding a complimentary piece for De'Aaron Fox, rather than a perfect partner, may make the most sense for a team in Sacramento's position.

Each choice holds both risk and reward for the Kings. Which would you rather the Kings pursue? Should they go after the high-risk high-reward prospect in a draft full of average players, or should they go the safer route and walk away from the draft with a rotational contributor who can hopefully be a bit more?

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LesJepsen3pointer
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November 14, 2020 11:38 am

Fences, but within reason? I have little confidence the players in the top 15 spots will be worth their contracts in the short-term. The second round has potential high impact players this year, and the financial value is definitely there. It is an ideal year to have three seconds. This is not the year for our dear friend cash considerations. Value + upside? If there was ever a year to trade a first round pick, it’s this year. Gimme Miles Bridges for #12 please!

Last edited 1 year ago by LesJepsen3pointer
eddie41
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November 14, 2020 11:59 am

In this year’s draft, at #12, I’d rather take the rotational contributor who hopefully can be a bit more. Also factor in team needs, IQ, ability to play on both ends, playmaking, intangibles.

itsjabby
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November 14, 2020 2:18 pm
Reply to  eddie41

oh..so like a top 5 pick?

eddie41
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November 14, 2020 5:57 pm
Reply to  itsjabby

Like Xavier Tillman

Adamsite
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Nostradumbass 14
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Nostradumbass 14
November 14, 2020 6:03 pm
Reply to  eddie41

I know you are high on Tillman, but I haven’t seen a single mock that has him going in the first round. Do you not think he will be there at #35?

eddie41
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November 14, 2020 7:46 pm
Reply to  Adamsite

I’ve seen mocks that have him going in the 20’s and one or two in the teens. I don’t think he’ll be there at 35 because every team wants him and there aren’t many facilitating bigs out there who can handle business on defense also. It’s one of those cases where the analysis does not line up with the conclusion. Everyone loves the way he plays. They rave about him. Even the Kings Pulse podcast guys said a few months ago they could see him starting on two teams that made deep playoff runs in different conferences this year with different playing styles: Houston and Boston. Then they were sort of meh on whether they might take him or Isaiah Stewart at 35. I read an article today that raved about him, said he’d be a on a perennial playoff for one or two decades and then maybe a coach, and then waffled about whether he could be ranked in the teens and then was envious of the Celtics, predicting he’d be another steal for them in the 20’s. I’m not a scout, so you don’t have to believe my evaluation, but I’m pretty sure the analyses on him by real scouts don’t match where he is on draft boards.

Adamsite
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Nostradumbass 14
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Nostradumbass 14
November 14, 2020 9:52 pm
Reply to  eddie41

I appreciate the insights. Thank you.

ZillersCat
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November 15, 2020 6:17 am
Reply to  eddie41

Who wouldn’t want the best college defensive player? Willie Cauley-Stein was one & Victor Oladipo was one. What would we be getting?
Is he the next Draymond Green? If he is, then he could be a difference maker for the Kings.

eddie41
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November 15, 2020 7:10 am
Reply to  ZillersCat

Again I don’t claim to have expertise, but offensively I think he’d be a great facilitator. Maybe like a slightly less talented version of Giles but equally effective at facilitating and with better defensive. His ceiling is higher if his 3-point shooting improves. It has never been his role but he shot 75% in combine testing and has good form.

CoreyBrewersD
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November 14, 2020 12:02 pm

HI BBIQ. Team needs an identity. If we are going to run, get a smart guy that can run. This is likely a high floor guy in this draft, swing away with the 2nds. Look at Clippers, Nets build, I know its LA/NY not Sack. Team is like a pyramid, foundational players support stars. No star, or potential star can really thrive without the right foundation…. FOX….bagley.

Last edited 1 year ago by CoreyBrewersD
SunBreakTheDawn
November 14, 2020 12:52 pm

I would be more than happy if we selected a high floor low ceiling player with a great motor. That being said Poku would get me so hyped. Though I don’t know how a 200 lbs 7 footer can survive in the league

WGriffith
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November 14, 2020 2:30 pm

Don’t look at the #1 ranked recruit from next year’s class Chet Holmgren!

BestHyperboleEver
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November 14, 2020 2:35 pm
Reply to  WGriffith

Or the one the following year, Victor Wenbanyama.

By the way, probably the two potential top 2022 & 2023 prospects played each other recently.

Adamsite
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Nostradumbass 14
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Nostradumbass 14
November 14, 2020 4:43 pm

Go back and read some of Giannis’ draft profiles. He was 196 pounds when he was drafted.

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markdog333
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November 15, 2020 12:46 pm
Reply to  Adamsite

I would be fine with the pick as long as they are aware of the career ark. Poku will likely be on or near his second contract before being a plus on the court. Hopefully, we will not be on our next GM by then.

RobHessing
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November 14, 2020 1:00 pm

At #12 in this draft, the odds of hitting a homerun has to be practically nil. Treat the asset of the #12 pick for what it is and get a player that has the best chance of providing a return on investment on the pick.

ZillersCat
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November 15, 2020 6:21 am
Reply to  RobHessing

Think Jason Thompson at 12 .. not Fox!

IvanowskiNBA
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November 14, 2020 1:04 pm

I would like to risk it for the biscuit please

SmallBallReject
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November 14, 2020 2:09 pm

Pet peeve: complEmentary, unless you are just looking for someone to say nice things about Fox.

Kingsguru21
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November 14, 2020 2:23 pm

I doubt the draft offers a 2nd potential star. It just doesn’t seem like that kind of draft. I think the Kings are better off hoping for that with Bagley at this point than hoping that player comes with the 12th pick.

I also think if the Kings can manage flexibility for themselves by trading the pick and moving money off the books, I think you strongly consider it. It’s one thing to insert a young player into a mostly veteran rotation and have production. But that works with really good teams that have better established cultures than the Kings do. There’s a chance Justin James ends up better than the 12th pick does. Not a large chance, but it’s a possibility worth considering in the grand scheme of things.

That all said, I don’t think this decision is a needle mover either way. It’s a bonus if you can hit on a player, but it’s by no means a major error if you miss. Monte McNair has the luxury of pretty much being in a no lose position. No matter what he does, it won’t exactly be a reflection of him. Which is a great position to be in. If you trade it for flexibility or a veteran, that works. If you keep the pick and see a potential star, that works, obviously. If you value cheap role player production after an initial learning curve to the NBA, that works, too, of course.

No matter what, I don’t think the Kings are hurt by whatever decision McNair & Co. come up with. It’s just a matter of whether or not it ultimately works. But whatever happens, the real success will come with the existing group of players already here and Fox and Bagley leading the way. The 12th pick, at best, will likely be a cherry on top of that sundae.

TheGrantNapear
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November 14, 2020 3:14 pm

Every draft has some diamonds in the rough, up to the FO to find them. Given Vlade is no longer running the show I have faith in the new GM to find us some draft steals in the next few years.
Put it this way, the days of drafting Papa and Justin Jackson are gone. Speaking of the JJ pick, the two guys taken right before him were Spida and Bam. Instead VladFather trades down and we end up with JJ and Giles. 🤷€™‚️🤦€™‚️

Adamsite
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Nostradumbass 14
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November 14, 2020 4:47 pm

If you wanna swing for Poku and #12 and know you are going to have to wait a few years, then I can get behind it. He might be the only one within reach of the #12 who has that kind of ceiling. I feel everyone else could be a solid role player.

I do like the idea of drafting Poku and stashing him overseas. This frees up a roster spot and salary that can be used to take on some bad deals for future assets.

NorCalKingsFan
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November 14, 2020 9:45 pm
Reply to  Adamsite

I believe there are players who are currently better than Poku and could contribute right away, but I would be completely happy if they took a flyer on Poku and let him stay overseas for a year. He has a fluidness to his game that I like and he seems quite talented. Just give him a list of things to work on while he continues to grow into his height.

richie88
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November 14, 2020 4:51 pm

A prospect’s most likely top outcome is the most important factor to me.

BestHyperboleEver
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November 14, 2020 4:59 pm

Draft for love.

NorCalKingsFan
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November 14, 2020 5:42 pm

It depends on where you are drafting, the overall level of talent available to you, and your own team’s 3yr goals (competing for title/pushing for playoffs/rebuilding).

In this draft, with the 12th pick, with this team, I think you go for the best player on your board regardless of fit. I would expect the player taken to be a starting caliber role player within the next 2-3 years.

cunimus
November 14, 2020 6:58 pm

I’d like to gamble on high-ceiling more than low floor. The Kings are still in talent acquisition mode. When they are winning enough games to move out of the lottery, I see low floor players being the target (unless a reasonable high-ceiling player drops to them).

Not only do the Kings need to be able to identify talent, they also need to be able to develop it. There could be some challenges to player development in the coming season. What will the G-League look like? Will there be a higher rate of COVID cases than in the NBA that disrupt the schedule and/or training?

With respect to Poku, I don’t think that overseas is a good development plan for him. He needs a NBA strength program. Also, I don’t think the team he’s playing for will give him minutes if they know he’s heading to the NBA in a season or two.

Adamsite
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Nostradumbass 14
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November 14, 2020 7:36 pm
Reply to  cunimus

I agree with this. A small market and downtrodden team like the Kings do need to swing for the fences. They unfortunately only have the options of the draft or trade. Free agency is a non starter for this team. Much in the way the Bucks struck gold with Giannis, Bulls with Butler, or Denver with Jokic, the Kings need to find their diamond in the rough. Drafting good role players without a legit star will really get the Kings nowhere.

In terms of Poku, the Kings could potentially take the Gobert path and develop him in the G-Leauge. Gobert spent a good chunk of his rookie season down there and Utah developed him. If the Kings utilized Stockton for what it is meant to be used for, they could build a system and team down there to groom Poku, especially if they feel he is the next great unicorn in this draft.

cunimus
November 15, 2020 8:12 am
Reply to  Adamsite

I think we have a front office that is more capable of identifying talent than the previous regime (although that’s not staying much).

The next step is being able to develop it. I hope the Kings are able to do that more effectively than in the past.

It’ll also be interesting to see how much players in this draft have progressed since college due to the extended off-season. That could particularly benefit players that needed to add strength.

Chent
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November 14, 2020 8:21 pm

I think we go high upside with 12 and draft Poku. My preferred outcome, I know its unlikely considering it involves a S&T of Bogi to the Bucks, but this is a way to move the time clock back:

S&T Bogi for 24th pick/Divencenzo+ pieces to make it work.

Draft Poku (12)/Flynn(24)/ Nwora (35)/ Move 43+53 to move up for Tillman.

Next year:

Fox/Flynn
Buddy/Divencenzo
Barnes/Nwora
Bagley/Barnes / Poku stashed
Holmes/Tillman

markdog333
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November 15, 2020 2:04 pm

In general, I lean towards the player with the highest upside. I think this is also where teams with an established culture and style of play have an advantage because it is easier to find good to elite role players when you know what roles you are trying to fill.

NinjaFetus
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November 15, 2020 3:30 pm

Best player available, even if that person in this draft is only going to be at best a rotational piece. It’s Sacramento, only way to get good players is draft or trade, and even then it’s still tough.

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