My oh my – where does one possibly begin? I guess we’ll keep it short and sweet by starting with the positives – the draft picks.
Pick #10 – Jimmer Fredette:
While some might have preferred the hard-nosed ways of Kawhi Leonard or the touted leadership qualities of Kemba Walker, it’s almost impossible to argue the selection of BYU’s Jimmer Fredette. Many have questioned his ability to play defense in the NBA and it’s certainly a legit question as he really didn’t play any in college, however, judging by the rest of his game, one could reasonably assume he’ll work hard and at worst be a competent NBA level defender. While there is some skill involved, defense is a lot more effort, hustle and desire – things we’ve never seen Fredette lack. Offensively, he’s a rare breed. I’ve seen a lot of comparisons to guys like Kyle Korver and Jason Kapono and I really don’t understand them in the least bit. I guess the “white shooter” stigma is thrown at him, but it’s completely incorrect. Fredette, while he can shoot lights out from just about any place on the court has a fantastic ball on the floor game, highlighted by his impressive crossover. He has no problem, whatsoever, creating his own shot. Kapono or Korver, he is not. This man can score and do so with the best of them. His ability to stretch the floor will be a welcome addition to the paint pounding Kings. Say what you will about how the Kings got into position to select Jimmer at #10, the pick itself, was fantastic. I’m extremely excited to see what he, DeMarcus and Tyreke can accomplish – it’s a fantastic trio.
Pick #35 – Tyler Honeycutt:
An absolute steal, in all honesty. Most mock draft’s projected Honeycutt to go in the mid 20′s but once the foreign invasion began to take over, guys began to slip and Honeycutt’s drop was Sacramento’s gift. The UCLA product certainly has his flaws, mainly a lack of strength (6-8, 187), but his frailness is something easily fixed over an off-season or two with a weight training program – I certainly have no worries about Honeycutt’s ability to bulk up but it does make one temper their early expectations. However, when Honeycutt does add the needed 15-20lbs of muscle, the guy has a skill set similar to that of long time Kings wish-list forward Tayshuan Prince. He’s an extremely smart player, always hustles, possess fantastic athletic ability and frankly should have little problem being a very solid starting small forward for the Kings down the road. In no stretch is that a knock on Omri or Donte, but the Kings shouldn’t need to hope and wish any longer at the small forward position – Honeycutt should fit into that role and fit into it well, even if it takes a year or two. Give the kid time and you’ll be happy with the finished product. For all that might have went wrong with the John Salmons trade, much went right in the actual draft, Honeycutt falling to 35 included.
Pick #60 – Isaiah Thomas:
Ah, Mr. Irrelevant. The last player picked in the draft. Almost always worthless, except this year. Now, I know what you’re thinking – what a homer. Touting all three picks the Kings made? Even the last pick? Yes, yes I am. And for those of you who know me, you know I don’t sugar coat much when it comes to the Kings. With that all said though, Thomas is a fantastic pick, even at #60 and I think he has a fantastic shot at making the team out of camp (whenever that is).
Yes, Thomas is extremely small, but when you have the speed and quickness that he does, you can deal with the height issues. He reminds me a ton of Earl Boykins – a talented scorer who isn’t intimidated by bigger players and has learned the art of protecting the ball until he’s ready to score. It might seem trivial, but, it’s far from it. Geoff Petrie has shown a fantastic mastery over the years to snag low rotation guards like Thomas off the wire (Pooh Jeter, Ronnie Price, etc) and this is no different. I actually think Thomas has more impact ability than Price or Jeter did/do – so considering the value, it’s a very good pick.
Now to the John Salmons trade….
This one chapped my ass (and most likely, yours as well). Yes, the Kings needed an upgrade at small forward and needed one right now. Yes, Salmons does provide that. He’s a better defender than Donte or Omri. He’s a better scorer than Donte or Omri. And while Donte has him beat athletically and Omri from the arc, Salmons is simply the best player out of the three.
Unfortunately, I really question Salmons fit on this current roster. He’s a scorer – at least in his mind, even though he’s really not. I wont extend this piece by preaching about his offensive ball jamming ineffectiveness – you watched him stagnate the Kings ball movement for nearly three seasons. You know what he brings to the table. It was bad enough when he was surrounded by guys like Kevin Martin and Ron Artest, but now pairing him with Tyreke? DeMarcus? I’m slightly frightened at the end result.
In addition, the trade pushed the Kings back to the 10th selection instead of 7th, which didn’t seem all that terrible prior to the draft but once things began to unfold – it stung. As much as I think the Fredette pick was solid and am happy he’s a King, had the Kings stayed at 7th and had a shot to draft Brandon Knight – It would have been a dream come true. Granted, nobody expected him to drop lower than the fifth pick so it is a bit of Monday morning quarterbacking, but can you really put yourself in a position to not draft a guy like Knight?
The final complaint on the Salmons acquisition is the loss of Beno Udrih. I’m not as upset about this as some others – though, I think the Kings are going to feel the loss of his efficient game this year more than they may think. When the Kings struggled offensively, it was generally Udrih who came to their rescue. His ability to not only get into the paint but to stretch the defense really helped the stagnant Kings offense – and now they replaced him with one of the most stagnant offensive players in the league. Goodie.
While Salmons does fit a positional need and is a talented player, my preference would have been for the Kings to keep Udrih (for now) and make a decision between Fredette and Knight at #7. But alas, what’s done is done and Salmons is a King once again. And while I’m far from a fan of the actual trade, the draft is a different story. I applaud the fantastic drafting by the Kings front office.
I just hope come October, or whenever the Kings season does begin, that Salmons is not wearing a Sacramento Kings uniform. He’s a talented player, don’t get me wrong, but the fit? It’s just not there. Sorry John, it’s not you – it’s m, actually, no – it’s you. But I’m not letting a silly trade ruin what was a fantastic draft – and you shouldn’t either.
Image thanks to Kings.com