With the NBA draft rapidly approaching and the unconfirmed rumor mill heating up, the Sacramento Kings have recently been linked to a couple of lottery point guards, a bit of a surprise with De'Aaron Fox on the roster. On Thursday morning, Marc Berman of the New York Post reported that the Kings are "very interested" in Alabama point guard Kira Lewis Jr., while Bleacher Report's Jonathan Wasserman shared that Sacramento has also shown interest in international prospect Killian Hayes.
Those tidbits offer an interesting debate for a team like the Kings. If a point guard or combo guard is the best player available, should they ignore potential fit issues with purported franchise cornerstone De'Aaron Fox? Monte McNair was a part of a two-headed guard monster in Houston, while the Portland Trail Blazers and the Oklahoma City Thunder have also enjoyed success with a similar dual-guard concept. A franchise bereft of young talent should perhaps worry about ceiling now and fit later.
If the Kings are looking at that sort of plan, three guards stand out in the lottery. While Killian Hayes will almost certainly be off of the board unless Sacramento moves up, the previously mentioned Kira Lewis Jr. will likely be available at number 12, as well as Kentucky's Tyrese Maxey and possibly UNC's Cole Anthony. Each of these guards offers their own major strengths and major weaknesses.
Lewis Jr. was arguably the fastest player in college basketball last year, and his elite speed would be fascinating next to De'Aaron Fox. A fast break run by that duo would be almost indefensible, but the Alabama stud is also on the short and skinny side, measuring in at 6'3" and 160 pounds. There's no realistic path toward him defending opposing shooting guards in the next few years, meaning Fox and Lewis Jr. would either need an elite perimeter defender to help make up for their struggles on that end of the floor, or Lewis Jr. would have to spend most of his time backing Fox up, rather than playing next to him. Drafting Lewis Jr. would be a huge roll of the dice in favor of outscoring every opponent every night.
Tyrese Maxey is probably the best defender of any of the guards available in the lottery, but his shot is also the most questionable. Despite putting up solid three-point shooting numbers in high school, Maxey only nailed 29% of his attempts from deep in his single season at Kentucky. With Fox's outside accuracy severely regressing in 2019-2020, the pair might find clogged defensive lanes at all times when playing together, as opposing teams would have no need to step out and challenge three-point attempts. The Kings would be gambling on Maxey's defensive potential and ability to attack the rim in the half-court to outweigh his lack of an outside shot, at least until he or Fox could prove themselves as shooters. He represents perhaps the most balanced, two-way available in the late lotto.
Cole Anthony is a player who most thought would be a lock for a top-5 pick when the collegiate season started last fall, but his personal and team's yearlong struggles saw his draft stock plummet continuously. Anthony was an inefficient, high-volume scorer throughout his time at UNC, but his ceiling is likely higher than that of Lewis Jr. or Maxey, even though many mock drafts now have him picked after either of those guards. If Anthony is selected by the Kings, they'll be gambling on his potential upside rather than his pure production in college, not a bad strategy for a team desperate for high-level talent.
If you had to draft a point guard with the 12th overall pick, who would you prefer the Kings take: Kira Lewis Jr., the smaller speedster, Tyrese Maxey, the defensive-minded combo guard, or Cole Anthony, the falling knife with loads of potential?
We’re going to suck no matter what, so we might as well be fun to watch.
Try to trade up to get Killian Hayes is probably the best…..
can create his own shot, decent shooter, NBA ready…
While I think Kira is just too skinny…….ceiling would be a backup PG
While cheating a bit given how the question was framed, this would be the best scenario and the easiest to envision working. Hayes has the size and strength to play SG, even if he might not be a very good defender at first.
Maybe Maxey could as well (as more of a combo guard), but Lewis and Anthony wouldn’t really fit next to Fox. Now you do take BPA. And perhaps the FO doesn’t view Fox as part of their long term plan, so it may not matter if we stay at 12. But the pairings aren’t as good of a fit as Hayes.
1) Tyrese Maxey has no business being taken at #12. If you want him, trade down and get additional assets.
2) Kira Lewis is Fox lite, so I really don’t see them playing alongside each other. Defense will sag into the paint and dare them both to shoot, especially when they are on the court together.
3) Cole Anthony is definitely the falling knife right now. You’d need a lot of confidence in picking him, but he too is someone that is a reach at #12. Trade down for him if he is your choice.
4) Hayes is someone I can get behind to run alongside Fox, but his stock is on the rise and would require the Kings giving up assets to reach him. He is likely going top 5. I still question his shot, but Dumars may have McNair’s ear on this kid.
5) From all that, if a guard is someone you want to put alongside Fox, has the 2 way chops to defend bigger players and shoot from deep, can play make like a PG, and is someone you might be willing to trade up for….MAKE IT HALIBURTON. He or Hayes will be there at #6. Go get that pick from Atlanta.
If we can trade up to 6 and get Hayes or Haliburton, I’ll be thrilled. Although there are 4 or 5 guys at that slot who I would be happy to take.
I agree. I’d add Okoro and Avdija to that list for sure, but if it’s a guard the Kings want, I’d aim for Haliburton.
Fun fact, Haliburton is taller (or as tall) as Okoro and has at least a couple inches on him in wingspan.
The point, you could theoretically play Haliburton as a “SF” with two other guards.
Situationally, you 100% could. But also worth noting that Okoro weighs 50 pounds more than Hali, which will certainly help with stronger SFs.
I realize you weren’t directly comparing the two, but the point being Hali can play some SF and be very switchable, but I’d imagine he’d struggle with stronger SFs. Although, with more teams rotating strong SFs down to PF that may not be as much of an issue.
Couldn’t have said it better. I also wouldn’t mind trading back for a chance at someone in the backcourt along Fox and someone like Poku
I agree 100% with your assessment and overall points as I feel the same way.
That said, one tiny nit here is that in this flat of a draft, I am not sure there is really such a thing as drafting a player too high or that we can count on trading down and still having them available.
Now, I think you can say that for someone like Maxey – given the risk/reward, upside/downside, probability of success, etc. – you hate using a #12 pick on them. But I don’t think some of the talent tiers are as clearly defined this year as in other drafts. And I think that if you want someone like Maxey or Anthony, you might have to take them at 12, because I don’t think it’s a guarantee they last much longer even if you did trade down to 16.
While I realize that in any draft, any player can go much higher than expected, I do think in this type of a draft, a guy like Anthony mocked around 20 could much more easily go #13-14 if a team wants to gamble on his upside than someone like Leaf, Giles, or Ferguson when we had the 10 pick in 2017 (i.e., we could have traded down and felt pretty safe they would be available).
The flat draft can really work either way. You can think, “hey, I better go get my guy because he could go higher than we think” or you can think “we like players A, B, & C a roughly equal amount and we’re confident at least one of them would still be there at a later pick.”
That said, I’ve certainly been burned before. In 2016, I was pushing for a Prince, Bembry, Levert 1st round. Turns out they were all gone before the Kings second pick.
I agree, but I think what you are identifying is two different strategies.
If you have a guy, you need to get them and can’t count on trading back (like when Petrie drafted Hedo and on draft day some people were saying it was a “reach,” but then rumors came out other teams were ready to draft him early).
If you have 3 players you are relatively indifferent between and see as fairly fungible, then you can trade back and just be happy to get any of them.
Trading up is easier said than done
Dont see anything outside of Fox/Bagley/future picks on our roster that could get it done
Than its about the guards in our range arent substantially worse to warrant that
Best hope would probably be if the Hawks did want to “win now” and wanted to trade for Hield.
There maybe a path to getting #6 and shedding some long term salary.
There was just a thread on this on the trade and transactions board of RealGM, and the lay NBA fan didn’t see that for the Hawks.
Buddy was benched/questionable advanced stats/and is going to be paid as the cap is being re calibrated down
That is to say, I wouldnt automatically assume Buddy could get that done.
Trading up is not easy
Not to mention, not sure youd put Buddy next to Trae defensively
Agree, not automatic. But Buddy’s advanced stats were stellar two years ago and he was pretty clearly misused last season.
I’d imagine that the Hawks probably value him more than some of those fans. It also might not be Buddy alone, but Buddy + 12 for 6 + ?.
We can debate if Buddy is worth the #6, but he certainly should have enough value to be worth moving up 6 spots in the draft assuming the other team wants to add a veteran instead of a rookie.
Obviously, the wild card is we don’t know what other teams are offering.
Hayes made 39% of his 3’s & nearly 91% of his FT’s, so why do you question his shot?
I think he questions his shot at wearing a Kings jersey next year. Chances are he is picked before we get a shot…
Of that group, Lewis. Don’t overcook the Fox/Lewis pairing. With up tempo & load management there would be a ton of minutes behind Fox. And as OKC proved, you can be successful even when your talent is smaller (CP3, SGA, Schroder).
And of the options presented here, I think that Lewis has the best chance of making the other players on the floor with him better.
Bibby & B-Jax worked. Fox & Lewis can work.
(I know nothing.)
Completely agree. As you said in 2018, when you have a lottery team, you draft BPA 100% of the time.
And if you like Lewis, you take him and you figure it out. And if both turn out to be great players, but cannot play together, you can trade one in 3-4 years when you are getting knocked out of the playoffs because of the fit.
But in the long run, it’s 100% better for the franchise to have two stars and trade 1, than to have an extra role player because you were too worried about “fit.”
Kira. But I could see another team drafting him in the top 10. Any other point guards to consider at 12?
Well if the Kings should target a guard might as well trade up to get either Haliburton or Hayes. If not then trade down to get Maxey. If they can’t find a trade partner to move up or down and they pick at 12, I would not be opposed at getting Lewis or Maxey even at 12.
If we can come out of this draft with Hali or Hayes and don’t have to give up the farm to get them, I will start building a statue for McNair right now (it will be a really bad and small statue, but I’ll still try).
I’m with you but not ready to commit on that statue thing. Haliburton would be my choice if we trade up but if its Hayes I don’t mind it either. I just watched a replay yesterday on NBATv with a matchup against the Hawks vs the Heat. Reminds me of the trade proposal of Buddy + 12 for Huerter and the 6th.. Man if that trade actually happens I would be stoked! Huerter for his size at 6’7 is a really good player. Can shoot, can run point and is a really good playmaker which we desperately need. And add that we also get the 6th pick and a chance to draft Haliburton or Hayes? sign me up! I would even be willing to add Joseph in the trade proposal if it means getting Huerter and the 6th pick.
It would likely be better than anything that’s in front of the arena today.
My “point guard-ish” big board top 10:
I appreciate this. So difficult to rank them all. Would you be bold enough to rank your next 10 PGish prospects? Some guys not on your top 10 list include: RJ Hampton, Tre Jones, Jalen Harris, Abdoulaye N’Doye, Markus Howard, Cassius Winston, Nico Mannion, Ashton Hagans, Payton Pritchard, Devon Dotson.
I’ll tackle this when I have more time, but I will say that I wouldn’t rank Hampton, N’Doye or Harris as PGs. Though Harris could be debatable since he was their primary ballhandler. If I were to include those guys, I’d also have to include guys like Edwards, Avdija, Poku, etc.
I say forget fit. Best available player period, regardless of fit. I think most here have 2 tiers of players, with the 12 pick being dead middle of the 2nd tier. If FO thinks they can get into tier one and get a guy that is that much better than middle of 2nd tier, then so be it. I
am going tohave to trust FO to know best fit for their vision. I like guards here. Scoring sells tickets while you tank, it also builds perceived trade value of your players. Haliburton, Hayes trade back for Maxey.
If Haliburton is gone, then it has to be Terry.
I don’t like any of the 3 options presented, out of just those 3 though, Maxey is the one I dislike the least.
I’d draft Lewis, but given Walton’s refusal to push the pace it would wind up a wasted pick.
Refreshing to feel like we actually have a plan
I vote none of the above. They have to be a tall PG or else it wouldn’t work defensively.
man I would love to draft Ball and start him at the 2 next to Fox.