With all the drama the Sacramento Kings fans have had to deal with in the past few years, it’s about time we saw some actual luck.
I’m not just talking ownership and arena drama (we got that yesterday)—I’m talking lottery drama. The Kings have been in the lottery for the past six seasons, and not once has the team jumped. Two years, they fell (the worst luck was in 2009, when they fell from the No. 1 pick to No. 4. Blake Griffin, anyone?)
The 2013 Draft class looks pretty darn weak. With Sacramento currently slotted pre-lottery at No. 6, who will still be around to fit the Kings?
Of course, the class of 2014 looks like it could be one of the best in many years. If lady luck wanted to wait around till next year, that might be alright. Wouldn’t Andrew Wiggins look good in Kings purple?…
Let’s get to the first 2013 Mock draft before we lose focus here. 2013!
1. Orlando Magic: C Nerlens Noel, Kentucky
Orlando could go many ways here, but I’ll give them the guy who torn his ACL midseason and didn’t even finish one year of college. No, really, it makes sense.
Before his injury, Noel looked like a min-clone of Anthony Davis, the 2012 1st overall selection. He averaged 10.5 points, 9.6 rebounds and 4.4 blocks a contest on 59% shooting—he’s an excellent defender and a dynamic shotblocker with sharp athleticism. If he gets anchored offensively and next to an all-around player like Orlando’s Nikola Vucevic, it’ll work out great.
How he might fit the Kings: Sacramento would have to jump to No. 1 to guarantee Noel’s services. He’d provide an elite level shot blocker the team has never had (sorry Duane Causwell) and his defensive abilities would be excellent next to the offensive minded/defensively inept DeMarcus Cousins.
2. Charlotte Bobcats: SG Ben McLemore, Kansas
It is a tough choice here between McLemore and Indiana’s Victor Oladipo. McLemore is the better shooter, Oladipo is the better defender. I’ll stick with McLemore, although I wouldn’t be surprised if these two battle it out and switch positions multiple times as the draft gets closer.
McLemore is a dynamic shooter who had some fantastic games over the season and averaged 15.9 points, 5.2 rebounds and 49.5% shooting (42% from downtown). His shooting stroke is effortless and besides Duke’s Seth Curry, he’s the best shooter in the draft. He’s a solid defender and a player who fits into the system and doesn’t hog the ball. He’s a willing and gifted passer, something you don’t see enough in off guards.
His major problem was consistency; he looked like a lock for No. 1 some nights and a late lottery talent the next. Nowhere was this more evident than in the NCAA tournament—against North Carolina in the second round, he had two points on 0-9 shooting. Against Michigan in the Sweet 16, 20 points on 8-15. Often he looked way too passive for as gifted a scorer as he is.
Charlotte needs a scorer—and while Shabazz Muhammed may be the drafts best scoring prospect, he’s nowhere as sharp an all-around prospect.
How he might fit the Kings: Yes, the Kings have too many shooting guards as it is, but only Tyreke Evans has the potential McLemore has. If the Kings make a clean sweep of the players and go for a whole new roster, McLemore would be a great starting block. They’d need a top 3 pick in the lottery to get him, though. No. 6 won’t cut it.
3. Cleveland Cavaliers: SF Otto Porter, Georgetown
Otto Porter is an all-around great player with few weaknesses other than a lack of sheer star power. He’s an above-average scorer who improved his shooting significantly over his two seasons with the Hoyas. He’s also an elite defender, a good athlete and doesn’t demand the ball in order to be effective. In short, he’s everything the Kings could hope to get in a small forward that would fit their current roster.
The bad news is, Cleveland is above Sacramento in the lottery and Porter is everything THEY need in a small forward too.
How he might fit the Kings: Place Porter next to Tyreke Evans, DeMarcus Cousins and Marcus Thornton (three absolute ball-needy players) and bam! He’s already the squad’s best defender and second/third best player. He’d be the missing piece for this team developmentally. But again, the Kings would need a top 3 pick to snag him.
4. Phoenix Suns: SG Victor Oladipo, Indiana
It’s amazing how the top two guards (McLemore and Oladipo) in this class have risen from NCAA obscurity to top five picks in one season. Where McLemore rose on the star power of his jumpshot, Oladipo will lock in as a top 5 pick due to his supreme work ethic, efficient scoring and sharp defense. He’s an all-around smart prospect—it’s just a shame he’s a few inches too short to play small forward.
How he might fit the Kings: Again, Sacramento would most likely need a top 3 pick if they focused in on Oladipo. While I’d take Noel, Porter and McLemore over Oladipo, he would be a very good selection. Like McLemore, he does play a position the Kings are stuffed at (and he is too short to play SF).
5. New Orleans Pelicans: SF Shabazz Muhammad, UCLA
The Pelicans have a rising young point guard in Greivis Vasquez so they pass on Trey Burke here and take Muhammad, who has excellent potential as a scorer. He never looked like a star at UCLA, but neither did Jrue Holiday or Russell Westbrook and they both turned out just fine in the NBA.
Main concerns with Muhammad – all he did was score. He never looked like a good defender and often played selfish. There was also the LA Times article which proved he’d been lying about his age, which didn’t help his character concerns.
Still, give him to the Pelicans at least for now. They need a small forward and they need another scorer, especially if they decide to move on from the vastly disappointing Eric Gordon.
How he might fit the Kings: Another ball dominant wing? The Kings don’t need another one of those. If new management ships out the entire roster and needs a high-potential scorer they could do worse than Shabazz.
6. Sacramento Kings: PG, Trey Burke, Michigan
Let me start off with the caveat – I’m nowhere near as high on Mr. Burke as many in the community are. Regardless… at point in the draft he’s easily the best player available. If he is the selection, it’s a great one for Sacramento fans to get excited about.
Burke has a sharp season with averages of 18.6 points, 6.7 assists and 46.3% shooting. After a dynamic victory over Kansas in the NCAA Tournament (in which he scored an overtime-forcing three and finished with 23 points and 10 rebounds) Burke saw his stock skyrocket.
Burke’s demolition of Kansas was no doubt clutch, but it’s easy to overlook the fact that it wasn’t his ONLY game. In his six games in the tournament, he averaged 15.5 points, 6.5 assists, 3.1 turnovers… and 36.5% shooting. While I do not mean to dock this kid to much—he is no doubt the best point guard in the class, and in a “weak” draft he is a lock for a top 6 pick—Chris Paul he is not.
He’s a smart player, the best floor general in college over the past two years and is a good decision maker. He’s not as great an athlete as you’d like, and as Kings fans know full well thanks to Isaiah Thomas, small size does make a difference on the defensive end. Burke will never be a guy who can lock down a top tier opponent.
Under new (and assumed) management, expect the Kings to attempt a full from-the-ground-up rebuild, starting at the point. Is he a better long term prospect for the position than Isaiah Thomas? Yes, and that is all that matters.
7. Detroit Pistons: PF Anthony Bennett, UNLV
He’s an explosive athlete who can score from any spot on the floor. On the negative side, e never showed real defensive prowess at UNLV, and he also is a very ball dominant player. Given that he’s a bit undersized to play the four spot, it’ll be interesting to see how he’s used in the NBA. He’s certainly athletic and strong enough play both forward spots as needed.
He’s recovering from shoulder surgery and will miss draft camps and the summer league, and even with his faults his potential surpasses anyone left on the board.
How he might fit the Kings: ESPN’s Chad Ford has him going to the Kings in his latest Mock Draft, although he is redundant given the current roster. The positives: maybe he can play SF, and he’s got great scoring potential. The negative: Ball needy, poor defender, undersized power forward. Anyone think this is a good fit?
8. Washington Wizards: C Alex Len, Maryland
Len would be a fantastic fit here for Washington, providing the Wizards with a long term big man. He’s talented enough to be a top 5 selection, but like Noel he underwent surgery and will be out for the draft process.
Len can do everything you like in a big man—he’s a good rebounder, a good shotblocker and has a nice touch in the paint. He’ll need to get far stronger if he hopes to post up against NBA centers, but his 7’1 size and solid skills would make him a steal at this point.
How he might fit the Kings: He’d be a bit redundant with DeMarcus Cousins, but Len would provide the Kings with an absolutely scary big man combo for the future.
9. Minnesota Timberwolves: SF Dario Saric, Croatia
The Timberwolves are set with young talent at the point and both big man spots and could use more depth at either wing. Another logical option would be LeHigh guard C.J. McCollum to help with their three point shooting issues; still, let’s go with the top foreign player.
Expect Saric’s name to climb up the board as the draft edges closer. While he needs to improve his jumpshot and get stronger, he is a very smart player and a capable scorer and rebounder. He, along with Porter and Oladipo, are known to have the best motors in the draft. He’d be a smart add for the Wolves here.
How he might fit the Kings: He’ll probably be around when the Kings pick, and he’d give them a smart small forward with nice potential to fit in. His jumpshot is a concern, though.
10. Portland Trailblazers: PG C.J. McCollum, LeHign
McCollum might not make it past Minnesota, but if he does he’d be a very solid pick up for Portland. The Blazers have no serious weaknesses, and they certainly don’t need a starting PG when they have reigning ROY Damion Lillard, but McCollum would provide a huge bench spark. He’s a lights out scorer and amongst the best shooters in the class (he shot 51% from three last season). He’s a bit short to play shooting guard, but for what would be a depth pick this makes great sense.
How he might fit the Kings: He’d provide shooting help, and if continues to improve as a floor general he could become Stephan Curry 2.0. Would the Kings pass on Trey Burke to nab him, though?
11. Philadelphia 76ers: SG Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Georgia
This year’s winner for the coolest name contest. He needs to improve on his range, but he’s got excellent athleticism and is already a NBA level defender. Philadelphia has a need for more wing help, and if Caldwell-Pope continues to develop he and Jrue Holiday would create a dynamic combo. They could add another big to slide in next to Spencer Hawes if they don’t resign Andrew Bynum.
How he might fit the Kings: An athletic shooting guard who needs to improve his jumper? Don’t the Kings already have one of those?
12. Oklahoma City Thunder: C Cody Zeller, Indiana
Remember last year when Oklahoma City saw Perry Jones—who was one time viewed as a top selection candidate—fall to them at #27?
It could happen again this year. If Cody Zeller had come out last year, he’d likely have been a top five selection. Now he tumbles down to Oklahoma City, who desperately need more help in the paint.
Zeller isn’t the most athletic of bigs, but he’s quick and incredibly smart. He’s an above-average scorer in the paint, able to hit the outside shot, and he helps fill a need for the Thunder who have struggled to produce points near the basket. He needs to bulk up and he isn’t ready to face up against bigger NBA centers, but he’d be a very nice fit for the Thunder.
How he might fit the Kings: I don’t see Zeller as a great fit for the Kings, even though his high basketball IQ would instantly make him one of the smartest Kings players on the floor. He doesn’t provide the post defense Sacramento needs alongside DeMarcus Cousins.
13. Dallas Mavericks: PG Michael Carter-Williams, Syracuse
Darren Collison’s year in Dallas was a disappointment, so the Mavericks snag a real point guard of the future. While Carter-Williams lacks a refined offensive game, he’s already an excellent floor leader (averaging 7.3 assists for Syracuse last season). His 6’6 size makes him a very intriguing prospect, though his shooting (he scored 11.9 points on 39% shooting last season) is a real concern.
How he might fit the Kings: He’d provide the Kings with a great floor general, but he isn’t worth passing on Trey Burke or many of the other higher ranked players. If Sacramento ops to trade back, he’d be a solid selection.
14. Utah Jazz: SG Glen Rice Jr., Georgia Tech
Utah already is stocked full of big men, even with the looming threat of Al Jefferson leaving this summer. They really need a point guard, but Michel Carter-Williams is off the board. They don’t have a pressing need at shooting guard , but they can afford to take the best player left on the board and that might very well be Rice.
Character issues are a concern for Glen Rice Jr. after he was dismissed from Georgia Tech after a DUI. He spend the past few months in the NBA D-League and excelled, averaging 25 points, 9.3 rebounds and 4.3 assists in the Playoffs as his squad won the Championship.
An all-around talented player, Rice might fall because of his character issues but he’s a talented enough player to sneak into the lottery.
How he might fit the Kings: He provides little that the Kings don’t already have.
We’ll have another full Mock draft next week after the lottery.