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The Sacramento Kings need to draft a player who can contribute early

Devin Vassell, Aaron Nesmith, and Saddiq Bey are three prospects who could have an immediate impact for the Kings.

Editors note: We are excited to welcome Brenden Nunes to the Kings Herald staff! You may know Brenden as the host of the Kings Pulse podcast (co-hosted by our own Richard Ivanowski) and his writing at A Royal Pain. Welcome, Brenden!

The Sacramento Kings have eight games to catch or surpass the Memphis Grizzlies. If they do not play their way into the postseason throughout those eight games, they will more than likely find themselves selecting with the 12th or 13th pick in the 2020 NBA Draft that was recently rescheduled for October 15th.

While many view the Kings as a young up-and-coming squad, the reality of their roster is that several of the key pieces of their core are currently entering their prime. De'Aaron Fox and Marvin Bagley are the two young long-term pieces and Bagley's role grows exceedingly questionable with every missed game. In the recent offseason, the Kings acquired veteran players that clearly exposed a goal to win now and attempt to pass on the title of the longest NBA postseason drought to another team.

At the top of the draft, it is difficult to pass on upside, but in the second half of the lottery, teams are often presented with a choice. Do they want to take a player who is viewed as a project for their upside, despite their negative impact in the immediate, or a draftee with less potential who will contribute to winning basketball without much grooming needed? While the €˜project' player does usually present a higher potential ceiling, they also often require teams to concede minutes to detrimental performances in the short term and could simply not evolve in their projected direction - which is a developing concern with Marvin Bagley. With the age of Sacramento's roster and their current goals taken into account, drafting a high-floor, low-ceiling prospect seems to be the clear direction to take. 

As for some of the names that fit that mold in the 2020 NBA Draft pool, there is Devin Vassell from Florida State, Aaron Nesmith from Vanderbilt, and Saddiq Bey from Villanova. All three of these talents have NBA ready skills, particularly in the shared form of their shooting from beyond the arc and they fill a role on the wing where Sacramento could desperately use some depth behind and alongside Harrison Barnes. None of Vassell, Nesmith, or Bey converted less than 40 percent of their attempts from three during their most recent seasons in the NCAA, which should translate adequately to the NBA. Each of these names also showed an ability to have an influence on the game without requiring the ball in their possession, which is vital for a team currently featuring the likes of Fox, Bogdanovic, Hield, and Bagley moving forward. 

As for the defensive end, Devin Vassell is far and away the most skilled and intelligent of the group, which is the chief reason that his stock is higher than Bey and Nesmith. Vassell is an active off-ball playmaker defensively who stands at 6'6€ with a +4 wingspan, that tallied an impressive 1.4 steals and 1.0 block per game during his sophomore campaign at Florida State . He did so while maintaining 41.5 percent from three on the opposite side of the ball that included some notable tough shot-making off the dribble mixed with his catch-and-shoot opportunities. He is the embodiment of an NBA ready 3&D wing and the best in this class of that mold by far, him falling to Sacramento would be a dream come true. But, as often the case with King's fans, dreams remain for the night, and reality will likely present two options in Saddiq Bey and Aaron Nesmith as candidates. 

Aaron Nesmith has been declared the best pure shooter in this draft class by many, and with his absolutely absurd 52.2 percent from three on upwards of eight attempts per showing, it's easy to understand why. Despite only appearing in 14 games for Vanderbilt before going down with a season-ending right foot injury that is not all too much cause for concern, he attempted 115 threes of all different styles on the year. Low usage movement shooters will always find their way onto an NBA roster, particularly when they are 6'5€ with a 6'10€ wingspan. Imagine a Fox/Bagley pick-and-roll with Hield, Nesmith, and Bjelica spacing the floor€¦ Nesmith's exceptional +5 wingspan is a powerful tool for him defensively but don't be mistaken, nearly all of his value is found on the offensive end of the ball although I am admittedly more skeptical than others on his defensive capabilities despite his length.

Saddiq Bey is a better, more versatile defender than Nesmith, but an inferior shooter as well. To be fair, everyone is a worse shooter than Nesmith and Bey is no slouch in that department himself where he shot 45.1 percent from downtown on 5.6 attempts per game at Villanova. Bey also is the only one of these candidates I view as a 3/4 wing rather than a 2/3 wing due to his highly sought after height of 6'8€ and a wingspan somewhere between 6'10€ - 7' as it is not officially listed anywhere. At Villanova, he was tasked with switching onto almost anyone on the floor on any given night and did an impressive job containing a variety of speedy guards and burly bigs. He also flashed some playmaking capabilities, and while that should not be his role at the next level I do think that makes his fit in Walton's offense more appealing. There are concerns with his lateral quickness, but I have faith in him to be an impressive defender despite that, considering what he showed off during his freshman season.

Sacramento could instantly plug in a 3&D wing into their roster construction next season, and I don't think the fanbase could buy another gamble that doesn't pay off similarly to Skal Labissiere. If the Kings get lucky on the night of the lottery and jump into the top-4, the idea of avoiding high-ceiling low-floor prospects goes out the window since you are then talking of much higher potential upsides. But, assuming they remain at 12 or 13, they should be looking to select an NBA ready talent and Devin Vassell is the clear most desirable option while Aaron Nesmith and Saddiq Bey are the likely options the front office will be presented with Vassell be off the table. The Kings need someone that fits and can have a positive impact from day one, and you can never have enough wings on a depth chart.  

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Aykis16
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Nostradumbass 13
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Nostradumbass 13
June 16, 2020 8:36 am

Welcome to the team Brenden!

Adamsite
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Nostradumbass 14
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June 16, 2020 9:01 am

If Vassell somehow falls to the Kings, they had better jump on him. He has all the traits of the modern NBA wing that the league thrives on. All that being said, I don’t see him falling out of the top 10. I just don’t see him slipping past the Hornets, Bulls or Wiz who are in need of versatile 3 and D wings.

BestHyperboleEver
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June 16, 2020 10:13 am
Reply to  Brenden

I don’t see either of them being especially interesting picks there. Vassell at least has true impact 3-and-D upside. Neither Bey nor Nesmith really do. Personally, given the choice of Nesmith of Bey at 12/13, I’d say neither and trade the pick.

Adamsite
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June 16, 2020 10:46 am
Reply to  Brenden

Right now, I think it is a wash between those two. Would love to have them both come in for workouts prior to the draft. That could help me make a decision.

BestHyperboleEver
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June 16, 2020 9:58 am
Reply to  Adamsite

He show the traits of a good CnS 3 point shooter and defender. A good 3-and-D prospect. But he doesn’t really show any real creation or passing ability. And that from a wing or big, is what the modern NBA really thrives on. The true 3-and-D player (as opposed to the many guys often referred to as “3-and-D” but aren’t especially good at the 3 part and/or the D part) is absolutely a great role player to have on your roster, but it’s still a role player.

RORDOG
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June 16, 2020 10:50 am

The RORDOG Plan would be to draft Aleksej Pokusevski and just let him go hog wild on junk/fast food to do a reverse Jokic (accelerated Boris Diaw?).
His shoulder width is super small though, so he might just be one of those dudes that literally can’t put on weight.  

BestHyperboleEver
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June 16, 2020 11:19 am
Reply to  RORDOG

I think it’s really interesting to see Poku projected in the late-1st of a weak draft but Chet Holgrem, who is the American 2022 draft version (although even thinner and not quite as skilled, as expected at a year younger) of Poku being projected in the top 5 of a much stronger draft.
 
But yeah, I would absolutely target Poku and stash him with a major weight/muscle gaining plan. It’s a typical floor ceiling argument. A guy like Saddiq is much more likely to stick in the NBA than Poku. But Poku is much more likely to become a difference maker even if it isn’t all that likely overall.
 
Ultimately, my issue is that there’s just a whole lot of nothing, IMO, projected to go between the top 10 and the end of the 1st. For example, I don’t think Saddiq or Nesmith or Precious are meaningfully better prospects than Bolmero, Bane, and Reed. And, in fact, may be worse since Bolmero and Bane have shown some playmaking/facilitation chops.

Klam
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June 16, 2020 9:30 am

Welcome, Brenden!
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infierno_de_baloncesto
June 16, 2020 9:30 am

Say it with me
 
Draft best player, not best fit

Klam
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June 16, 2020 9:30 am

“Draft best fit? Got it!”
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BestHyperboleEver
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June 16, 2020 9:32 am

I don’t really agree with the premise. I think the Kings should still be targeting high end potential rather than quick contributing role players. Vassell, for example, can absolutely be a useful NBA player, but he isn’t going to elevate the Kings in the way they need. Nor will Nesmith or Bey IMO. The team is loaded with good role players types. What they need to figure out is where the 2-3 guys that can meld and elevate those role players are going to come from. As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, unless someone really unexpected falls or obviously if we jump in the lottery, I would be looking to trade that pick.

Adamsite
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Nostradumbass 14
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June 16, 2020 10:48 am

In truth, if someone really falls, it’s probably for a good reason that the Kangz won’t understand. Hello TRob and BMac!

RikSmits
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June 16, 2020 10:51 am

Normally, I would agree with you one hundred percent.
 
But from a Kangz perspective, I have zero confidence that our FO and coaching staff can properly develop a project, nor in having the patience top wait upon that development and to know how to do the simple math of signing the guy to a qualifying offer.
 
So I get the mindset, even though in it’s root, it seems wrong.
 
N.B. Welcome Brenden!
How do we pronounce your name? Just like Brandon?

infierno_de_baloncesto
June 16, 2020 11:04 am
Reply to  RikSmits

Agreed. This team can’t develop players and has shown little history to make you think otherwise.
 
They can’t attract players in FA without overpays. They can’t draft well. They can’t develop players well. These are all organizational issues that will take time to improve. (Don’t tell me it’s because players don’t want to live in Sacramento when comparable cities like OKC, San Antonio, Denver, Portland, Memphis, Utah, etc.. can attract and retain talent because of a reputation of winning and relative stability).
 
They have to be better about flipping young players with theoretical upside to get players who can play now. Do that while they work on all the other issues that would likely take them years to sort out.

BestHyperboleEver
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June 16, 2020 11:22 am

Meanwhile, the Piston look like they may lure Troy Weaver as GM. And we’re stuck with your description above.

RORDOG
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June 16, 2020 12:07 pm

I don’t agree with this:

They can’t attract players in FA without overpays.

Vlade just likes to overpay past their prime big-name players more often than not in my opinion. Or to put it another way, they done a good job at paying fair or below market for rotation players. They are completely inept when attempting to overpay for starters.

infierno_de_baloncesto
June 16, 2020 12:38 pm
Reply to  RORDOG

Disagree. I think they get maybe 1 diamond in the rough for every 3 average rotation level players they sign. Like last summer it would be Holmes was good, Dedmon bad, Ariza bad, Cory Jo bad, Barnes bad (but I could see the argument for lumping Barnes into the overpay for a starter category).
 

Last edited 2 years ago by infierno_de_baloncesto
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June 16, 2020 1:53 pm

I didn’t say he’s done a good job of finding diamonds in the rough though.

Shawn.DC
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June 17, 2020 4:17 am

Neither Joseph or Barnes have been bad. Both have done exactly what they were paid to do.
 
Barnes is a solid defender who can score very well for someone who is the 3rd to 5th option considering health and who’s playing well.
 
Joseph is a very good defender, who can shoot the 3.
 
What they get paid should not influence the kind of player they are.

BestHyperboleEver
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June 17, 2020 8:57 am
Reply to  Shawn.DC

No, but what kind of player they are should influence what they get paid. And what they get paid influences what other people on the team can get paid and the options a team has to improve its roster. Ultimately, overpaying for mediocre production can make it really difficult to improve the team.

BestHyperboleEver
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June 16, 2020 11:21 am
Reply to  RikSmits

They haven’t shown any greater ability to identify and maximize high floor players than they have to develop high ceiling guys.

RikSmits
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June 16, 2020 11:44 am

I think you could say to an extent that Fox, Buddy and Bogi were high floor guys.
 
I know two of those weren’t drafted by the Kings, but in my defense, you said “identify”…

Sacto_J
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June 16, 2020 9:40 am

Good read, thanks and welcome!

Migz
June 16, 2020 10:24 am

Per standard procedure, all three will be available and the Kings will pass on all.

SactownSportsfan
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June 16, 2020 10:38 am
Reply to  Migz

Vassell is a tantalizing pick but I don’t think he falls to us. I don’t trust our front office’s draft strategies with their track record and don’t expect to be super thrilled when Mr. Silver announces who we are taking.

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Nostradumbass 14
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June 16, 2020 10:49 am

With the 12th pick, the Sacramento Kangz select: Aleksej PokuÅ¡evski 

infierno_de_baloncesto
June 16, 2020 11:05 am
Reply to  Adamsite

Sometimes they surprise you with an overweight Greek kid

RORDOG
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June 16, 2020 11:07 am
Reply to  Adamsite

The RORDOG Plan„¢

Kosta
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June 16, 2020 11:22 am
Reply to  RORDOG

I am chowing down on a RORDOG„¢ as I’m reading your comment.

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June 16, 2020 1:55 pm
Reply to  Kosta

LUCKY! I’ve been eating shitty salads and beans in a futile attempt to get a bikini bod.

ZillersCat
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June 17, 2020 5:49 am
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Pandemic Summer is coming. 🙂

BestHyperboleEver
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June 16, 2020 11:32 am
Reply to  Adamsite

The most Kangzy pick, IMO, would be Precious. High physical upside, low BBIQ. They haven’t shown much interest in high skill, high BBIQ, minus-body projects like Poku.

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Nostradumbass 14
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June 16, 2020 1:30 pm

I just said Poku because he’s a 7′ Serb and Vlade likes drafting bigs.

BestHyperboleEver
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June 16, 2020 3:20 pm
Reply to  Adamsite

Wiseman is actually an extremely Vlade pick and I could totally see him being a falling knife.

RikSmits
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June 16, 2020 10:52 am
Reply to  Migz

Sad rec.

Kosta
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June 16, 2020 11:01 am

WELCOME TO HELL, BRENDAN! 🙂
 
I’m glad that Aykis snatched you up before the evil VOX company could!
 comment image

Greg
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June 16, 2020 12:09 pm
Reply to  Kosta

lol, that company isn’t going to hire someone who knows about the Kings

Kosta
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June 16, 2020 12:43 pm
Reply to  Greg

Great point!
 

andy_sims
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June 16, 2020 11:21 am

Very nice breakdown, Brenden.
 
And welcome to STR KH!
 

Last edited 2 years ago by andy_sims
BestHyperboleEver
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June 16, 2020 11:57 am
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I noticed there hasn’t been any new content on A Royal Pain for a couple weeks. Are they still… you know… a thing?

Kosta
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June 16, 2020 12:45 pm

I think their comment count wasn’t any less than that Site-That-Shall-Not-Be-Named.

BestHyperboleEver
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June 16, 2020 1:00 pm
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No, but they were consistently producing content. They haven’t had a new article in a couple weeks.

Kosta
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June 16, 2020 2:13 pm

Oh, now I understand. I hope they’re all doing okay.

jlandweh
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June 16, 2020 2:22 pm

I agree with pretty much the sentiment of most on here. We should absolutely draft for fit and need.
 
What we know we have (within reason)-Fox, Hield, Barnes, Holmes
 
What we possibly have-Bogi, Bagley, Giles, and Justin James (Im biased being at the Nuggets game on Thanksgiving)
 
So what fits?
 
Devin Vassell-I love this kid, and if the Kings jumped into the Top 4-I actually wouldn’t mind them taking him there. He’s my favorite of the bunch. He’s long, can shoot, plays great defense on the ball and help. His help defense looks elite. I see him as a possible 3/4. I think he shows shades of Jayson Tatum. Imagine a small ball lineup with him in it.
 
Aaron Nesmith-I like this kid but I think he is redundent to Hield and Bogi. He’s a great shooter and can play 2/3. He adds spacing but would add to the log jam. I just don’t see him adding something to this team with Hield, Bogi, and Justin James on the roster. I still would be happy with the Kings taking him, but not over Vassell. His shooting is elite and looks like to be similar to Hield.
 
Isaac Okoro-I like this kid and think he could add some things on the drive that the Kings lack other than Fox. He probably projects to a 2/3 and his shooting is lacking. However; his twitch and athleticism excite me. I think paired with shooters, he can be dangerous on penetration. He might be able to take some ball-handling/offense initiation away from Bogi off the Bench. I would be happy with the Kings taking him OR Nesmith if Vassell is off the board.
 
Saddiq Bey-I really am out on this kid. I think the only things he can do is stand in the corner and shoot 3’s. He lacks the help defense and switchability of Vassell. He lacks the athleticism and on ball defense of Okoro or Nesmith. I definitely am biased against kids that lack twitch and change of direction. He’s a long kid that can shoot but I don’t think he can create his own shot. Maybe he becomes Robert Covington, I just don’t see it.
 
I’d rate them 1. Vassell, 2. Nesmith or Okoro, 3. Bey
 
***Disclaimer-I loved Fox for the Kings in the draft and hit on that one. I also loved Markannen for the Kings at 10…and might have missed on that one haha. Just my opinions off youtube highlights haha.

TheBufferZone
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June 16, 2020 8:26 pm

I want the unicorn that is Jalen Smith. He’ll be the steal of the draft.

ZillersCat
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June 17, 2020 5:54 am
Reply to  TheBufferZone

Dude .. Clark Kent meets Karl Malone .. I’m in!!!
comment image
https://www.nbcsports.com/washington/ncaa/marylands-jalen-smith-gaining-national-recognition-midst-dominant-stretch
 
Deliver him to the Kings
 
Can he play small forward?
 

Last edited 2 years ago by ZillersCat
BestHyperboleEver
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June 17, 2020 9:14 am
Reply to  ZillersCat

He certainly has some skills that are interesting. His motor, his potential as a floor spacing big, and his potential as a weakside shot blocker being the biggest. But he’s going to have a really hard time finding a defensive home. He’s way to stiff and lacks the lateral quickness to defend NBA PFs or switch anything. And his lower body is exceptionally high, narrow, and skinny, which will make it really difficult to establish or defend position in the post. In short, he’ll likely be an exceptionally easy mark on the defensive end. At the moment, he’s also an exceptionally slow decision-maker. He doesn’t see or read the game well at all.
 
To me, he’s generally being appropriately rated towards the end of the 1st, early-2nd. I don’t see any real reason he should be rated much higher than guys like Perry and Oturu who are usually being mocked somewhere towards the mid-2nd.
 

Last edited 2 years ago by BestHyperboleEver
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June 17, 2020 10:41 am
Reply to  Brenden

I’d not heard of him as well. Looking into these guys that have been listed.
 
 

Last edited 2 years ago by ZillersCat
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June 17, 2020 7:02 am

Bey all day if Vassell is not available.

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