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Vlade and the Tank  


PlayoffModeT
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I apologize for any typos/grammatical errors in advance. I hope you enjoy the opinion piece! Thank you TKH for providing this opinion section as well. 

NBA talent is hard to acquire, especially if you're in a town like Sacramento. In this article, I provide a list of the top players in today's game, why we should embrace the tank, and recount Vlade's draft picks because his decisions are still haunting us.

NBA Talent: I found a list on the Washington Post (used for reference, I do not agree with all rankings) where it had me thinking, "where do teams land their best players in the draft?"

I categorized the groups by Top 3, Top 10, Top 15, 16-30, Second Rounders, and Undrafted. 

 

Using the Top 100 found in the Washington Post article, I tallied up where each player was drafted, and here is how they fared:

 

CategoryTop 100 PlayersTop 30 PlayersTop 50 Players
Top 3231420
Top 10 (4-10)24511
Top 15 (10-15)1457
16-301846
Second Rounders1725
Undrafted401
Total1003050

 

*The Top 30 and 50 Players were the 1-30 and 1-50 players of the 1-100 respectively*

As you can see, of the top 100 players list, 61 of them were drafted in the top 15. I added the Top 30 and Top 50 Players to provide a baseline in the difference in talent. Of the top 30, 14 of the players were drafted in the top 3. The numbers also show that 31 of the top 50 players were drafted in the top 10.

To note, 14 players of the top 100 (7 of those 14 were top 50) were selected in between 10 and 15. This should express that we were lucky to land Tyrese Haliburton at 12. Missing the playoffs or getting a first round exit is risky because landing a quality player is pretty rare but can happen. I am not betting on landing another Tyrese at 12 anytime soon.

Our beloved Kings team had two players ranked: Fox at 43 and Buddy at 85.

Now, you may be asking, "What does this have to do with the Kings?" Since 1989, the Kings have had two* top 3 selections. In 1989, the Kings selected Pervis Ellison number one. In 2018, we jumped from number seven to number two and selected Marvin Bagley III.

*In 2017, the Kings leapfrogged from the number eight pick to number three. Due to the illustrious Nick Stauskas trade, Philadelphia acquired swap rights to that selection and we ended up with draft slot five, selecting De'Aaron Fox.

 

We CANNOT continue to draft poorly! via Basketball-Reference

Draft Slots since 1989Number of Selections
Top 32
Selection 5-1014
Selection 10-2012
Selection 20-308
Total36

 

The above is where we have selected in the draft since 1989 and was tallied via Basketball-Reference, in case someone wants to replicate this data. I added the first-round selections of Justin Jackson, Malachi Richardson, Skal, Harry Giles, and Papagiannis to their respective slots.

This data shows that we have been majority mid to late lottery selections since 1989. Our highest outside of the Top 3 consists of one selection at four (Tyreke Evans) and three selections at five (Cousins/Fox/Robinson). These selections were our best players in recent memory. Drafting successfully later usually means you have a bit of luck on your side.

 

Embrace the TANK! When we couple the Kings' draft slot data with our top 100 players chart, teams are more likely to draft higher caliber players higher in the draft. (DUHH, Hinkied!) This is why I stand by the philosophy of selling off our average to above-average assets. Selling on Harrison Barnes, Buddy Hield, Richaun Holmes may not get a ton of assets, but they will still garner additional ones. Below is a hypothetical trade of HB and the trade return of Demarcus Cousins.

Example 1: A hypothetical trade of Harrison Barnes for Aaron Nesmith and a first-round selection gives us the opportunity to gamble on a rookie lottery player and a draft pick for 2021. In a deep class, we could land someone who falls to the said selection, package the additional asset with our pick to move up, or use it via trade to acquire talent.

Example 2: The Demarcus Cousins trade for Buddy Hield and a first-round pick. In hindsight, I would do this trade 10 times over. Sadly, Vlade didn't maximize our potential return. Because of the Vlade/Stauskas trade, in 2017 we moved from pick three to pick five. Selecting Fox is fine but we missed out on Jason Tatum. To add on, trading the New Orleans 10th pick for picks 15 and 20 was an even bigger mistake. Vlade failed to identify the talent before him. We missed out on Bam Adebayo, Donovan Mitchell, John Collins, Jarrett Allen, etc. Getting to these picks is easier than identifying talent (sometimes). Using the logic above, we are likely to land a better talent in the top 10 instead of selections 16-30.

 

Sorry, everyone, this is why we suck!

The following is our recent draft history, a really rough stretch for incoming talent:

Jimmer Freddette (2011, Trade 7 for 10)

Thomas Robinson (2012, Pick 5)

Ben Mclemore (2013, Pick 7)

Nik Stauskas (2014, Pick 8)

Willie Cauley-Stein (2015, Pick 6) *Vlade's first official GM Selection*

Georgios Papagiannis, Malachi Richardson, Skal Labissierre (2016, Picks 13, 22, 28)

De'Aaron Fox, Justin Jackson, Harry Giles (2017, Picks 5, 15, 20)

Marvin Bagley III (2018, Pick 2)

No Selection - (2019) *Stauskas trade*

Tyrese Haliburton (2020, Pick 12)

🤯 🍺 

 

For me, I label most players that don't receive contract extensions with their teams a bust because the return on investment has ended. By that logic, we have 10 of the extension eligible 11 having been busts. Tyrese and Marvin are left out making 13 total first-rounders since 2011.

 

In short, Vlade was a really really really bad General Manager. I think it is in our best interest to sell off players for additional assets. The data suggests we have rarely tanked successfully, and that is where the talent resides. We have our core of Fox, Haliburton, and MB3 for now. Now we just need to add a piece or two.

 

Some names I follow now are Jalen Suggs, Jonathan Kuminga, Cade Cunningham, Jalen Green,  and Ziaire Williams. If you haven't checked out the G League Ignite, I suggest you do so. This draft is loaded and we'll just have to wait and see what happens. In the meantime, let me know what you think, and thanks for reading! (Insert Tank Gifs)


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