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What is it going to take for Robert Woodard to get some playing time?

The Mississippi State forward deserves a look.

After teasing the basketball world for a few weeks that they might actually be decent, the Sacramento Kings have lost 7-straight games, and any talk or push for the Western Conference 10-seed should be good and dead. I use the word should instead of is because you'll still hear 10-seed talk on the Kings broadcast, and they aren't mathematically eliminated, but pushing for the play-in at this stage is silly. It's over. The team is bad. Play the kids.

I would advocate for playing time for all the 'kids' in Sacramento — Jahm'ius Ramsey, Kyle Guy, and Robert Woodard specifically, but I don't expect the Kings to sit that many veterans despite my desire to see the youth play, and I just think Woodard has the easiest case, so we'll start there.

Robert Woodard II was selected with the 40th overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft by the Memphis Grizzlies, and then traded to Sacramento along with a 2022 2nd round pick for Xavier Tillman (35th overall pick). The Kings later signed Woodard to a 3 year, $4,800,602 contract with the final year being a partial guarantee of 300,000.

The Kings liked Woodard going into the draft, and for good reason. There is a lot to like there. Woodard is a big, strong wing with some serious defensive potential and a promising 3-point shot that gives him a prototypical 3-and-D wing base to develop. We haven't seen much of Woodard in Sacramento this season, but as our own Brenden Nunes wrote in February, he had some strong moments in the G-League bubble before a left hamstring strain took him out for several weeks.

Woodard is healthy now, but currently glued to Luke Walton's bench while veteran forward and unrestricted free agent to be, Moe Harkless, is playing 28 minutes a night since he entered the starting lineup vs. the Detroit Pistons on April 8.

This is nothing against Moe Harkless, but with the play-in dreams fading, I don't see the logic behind minutes going to the veteran with no long-term future here over the guy you just drafted and gave two guaranteed years to in Robert Woodard.

Woodard may not be as good as Harkless on day one, but you made the investment, why not give him some run? Are you afraid the Kings will lose... more? What is it going to take for Robert Woodard to get some minutes?

Of course, I write this blog with different goals and intentions than Monte McNair and Luke Walton. I recognize that. The Kings have been a brutal watch recently. Brutal. I'm looking for something, anything new or intriguing, to keep me engaged and watching. I don't need much. Robert Woodard II would do it for me.

But beyond my own wants and needs, Woodard was an intriguing prospect out of Mississippi State, and you'd think someone in the Kings organization would like to see him on the court at some point.

The Kings, thankfully, have just 18 games remaining this season. They're quickly running out of time to give Woodard a meaningful opportunity in the rotation, and with his defensive potential coupled with the Kings' shortcomings on that end, I don't understand what the hesitation is. Woodard could be a key wing defender for this franchise moving forward — a position of obvious, obvious need, and hopefully we can get a glimpse into that future this season before it's too late.

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andy_sims
April 14, 2021 11:12 am

I agree with you 100% about Woodard, but while I feel that I have a pretty clear understanding of Walton’s intentions and goals for this season, I can’t really say the same about McNair. My guess is that they aren’t aligned in regard to the short-term, given that Walton’s only motivation is to win games and keep his job, while McNair’s position requires him to keep his eye on the larger picture.

Play the kids! Woodard is full-grown, I want to see him body-up people on defense, and back them down in the post. He’s had success in the D-league, it only makes sense to see what he can do at the next level/

02kingsfan
April 14, 2021 11:16 am
Reply to  andy_sims

I am so confused when McNair said “walton is doing a great job for us” and Walton said “he has regular communication with McNair.” These statements just don’t add up

Peja
April 14, 2021 11:18 am
Reply to  02kingsfan

That is just McNair giving us, as Buddy calls it, “the media answer”

andy_sims
April 14, 2021 11:30 am
Reply to  02kingsfan

They don’t add up, separately or in tandem, because they don’t mean anything.

If you’re the GM of a team, and you are asked in a public forum how your coach is doing, this is the generic answer that you give. If you’re the coach and are asked about your interaction with the new boss, this is a perfectly generic response.

What is McNair going to say? That he stuck with the worst coach in the league for financial reasons? And for Walton, is he really going to offer that his boss is giving him the silent treatment? (I don’t think that’s actually the case. I’d expect that McNair is just counting the days until he can hand Walton his stuff in a box and have him escorted from the property.)

rockbottom
April 14, 2021 3:16 pm
Reply to  andy_sims

Actually, his G-League stats were not outstanding ! Shot 42%, 21%on 3, 68 %ft, and scored 17 pts on 16 shots ! Does deserve a chance but did not excite many scouts it seems ! Sadly, Tillman would appear a much better fit now ! 2nd guessing is easy !

andy_sims
April 14, 2021 3:59 pm
Reply to  rockbottom

Apparently.

rc50cal
April 14, 2021 8:22 pm
Reply to  rockbottom

Many here knew it at draft time. However, I still think Woodard has some intriguing upside.

Last edited 2 months ago by rc50cal
DutchKingsFanInUK
April 14, 2021 11:12 am

“Woodard may not be as good as Harkless on day one, but you made the investment, why not give him some run?”

Amen. The worst thing that can happen is he shows that he doesn’t belong (yet). Even that information is valuable. If he doesn’t get time on the court for the Kings, this will be a waste of a season for a young player you already invested in. It’ll be a year of only practice and a couple of G-League games for another G-League team; a waste of a season for a young player.

02kingsfan
April 14, 2021 11:12 am

Even Kyle Guy gets minutes before Woodward these days which is just a perplexing decision by Walton

Peja
April 14, 2021 11:17 am
Reply to  02kingsfan

I agree with this. We lack defense and effort so you think we would give Woodard a try during the games where that is non existent

Peja
April 14, 2021 11:14 am

Woodard and the kids will probably not get some playing time until the kings are mathematically eliminated from the play in game. Hopefully that can happen sooner rather than later at this point.

andy_sims
April 14, 2021 11:32 am
Reply to  Peja

Another absolute downside to raising the tournament team count from sixteen to twenty. False hope for teams that ought to be investing effort into evaluating assets.

BestHyperboleEver
April 14, 2021 12:27 pm
Reply to  andy_sims

Honestly, I don’t really see any rationale from the POV of someone that doesn’t make money off the game. From a competition standpoint, too many teams were already making the playoff pre-COVID. The idea that below average teams make the playoffs is mind-bottling to me. (Yes, I know the reason is money.)

rockbottom
April 14, 2021 3:23 pm
Reply to  andy_sims

Sometimes it seems the FO is evaluating the actual assets and may have seen enough to feel that Woodward, Guy , James et all are not ! Time will decide the accuracy of this approach and the actual players NBA talent !

BeTheBall
April 14, 2021 1:09 pm

If we can get this losing streak to 11, that might be enough to get him some run. Fingers crossed on both accounts, anyhow.

andy_sims
April 15, 2021 9:24 am
Reply to  BeTheBall

My only (ONLY) concern with dumping Walton before season’s end is that it puts you in an interim coach situation, which might

  1. Worsen the Kings draft spot
  2. Allow someone already in-house to make a case for the permanent gig, which could limit McNair’s ability to cast a wider net to find the coach that he wants to install.

I don’t think there’s anyone, on-staff or outside the organization who can have that Nate McMillan effect for the remaining games. Let Walton continue to provide the most airtight argument for his own dismissal.

ajonez81
April 14, 2021 3:23 pm

Don’t make me copy and paste this into Monte’s DMs haha, seriously I will though, what’s his socials. Give us a break here Kangz, I was just reading that OKC is officially sitting Al Horford for the rest of the season to develop their young players like 2-way guys. They are like ‘Hey NBA we’re tanking’…and nobody cares…get it together Kangz smdh.

keith_kar
April 14, 2021 3:59 pm

Great article! I totally agree with you on the current state of the Kings, and your position on Woodard’s evaluation. I also loved this little snippet from the article.

“The Kings, thankfully, have just 18 games remaining this season”. As far as I’m concerned, this season can’t end soon enough. The sad part is, I’ll be watching until the end, but’s it’s gonna be a tough slog.

Hopefully there’s some positives we can take from these last remaining games to propel the Kings into a fresh start next season.

Kangz_Landing
April 14, 2021 4:31 pm

What’s it gonna take?

A new coach and owner. But hopefully just a new coach who’s not running Moe Harkless out there for 35 min to try to win and save his job.

TerzoM
April 14, 2021 4:42 pm

comment image

TheBaker
April 14, 2021 6:26 pm

The eye test shows there is talent there. It’s the reason why there’s a enough fans on this site, and excellent writers (like that of this article) who are calling for a chance to see the kid play in real NBA games.
I don’t understand why so many outside of the picture can see it, but the coach or organization or both cannot see it.

rc50cal
April 14, 2021 8:29 pm
Reply to  TheBaker

I don’t agree with you. This is one of the least talented teams in the league.

rc50cal
April 14, 2021 8:19 pm

Fire Luke Walton if that’s what it takes not
to see Harkless for 28 minutes per game.

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