Jun 3, 2013; Sacramento, CA, USA; Sacramento Kings new head coach Michael Malone (left) and owner Vivek Ranadive speak during a press conference at Sleep Train Arena. Mandatory Credit: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

2013 NBA Draft - Sacramento Kings: Examining The Point Guards

Apr 6, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Michigan Wolverines guard Trey Burke (3) drives against Syracuse Orange guard Michael Carter-Williams (1) in the first half of the semifinals during the 2013 NCAA mens Final Four at the Georgia Dome. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

If you’ve been following our Kings Draft Profiles here at A Royal Pain, you’ve noticed a trend. Bryant West and I just don’t seem to see eye-to-eye on many of this year’s top NBA Draft prospects. So it only seemed right to bring in a third party expert to shed some more insight on how the Kings should approach the 2013 draft class.

Neal Leitereg has covered the NBA Draft for Examiner.com since 2010. Neal has agreed to lend his knowledge, and over the next few weeks, he will help break down each position and how the Kings may choose to attack it at the NBA Draft on June 27.

First up is the point guard spot, one of the deeper positions in this year’s draft. Isaiah Thomas is the only lead guard under contract for Sacramento next season, and Kings management may be considering a point guard to provide depth and/or push Isaiah for the starting gig.

Five Questions With NBA Draft Examiner Neal Leitereg – Point Guards

ARP: Isaiah Thomas emerged last season as a team leader and showed the ability to drive the Kings offense when finally given the keys. As such, should point guard still be a priority for Sacramento in this draft?

Mar 24, 2013; Sacramento, CA, USA; Sacramento Kings point guard Isaiah Thomas (22) makes a three point basket against the Philadelphia 76ers during the third quarter at Sleep Train Arena. The Philadelphia 76ers defeated the Sacramento Kings 117-103. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Neal: Point guard will not be the focus of Sacramento’s draft plan, but I would not completely rule out the Kings selecting one at some point. Tyreke Evans could be gone and Toney Douglas is unlikely to be tendered a qualifying offer. That leaves Thomas and Jimmer Fredette as the two ball handlers on the roster.

After his breakout season, Thomas is obviously going to be given an opportunity to show what he can do, but the jury is still out on Fredette. A point guard that the team can develop behind Thomas, such as Erick Green out of Virginia Tech or Isiah Canaan out of Murray St., makes a lot of sense for the Kings at No. 36.

ARP: In his short college career, Trey Burke became a confident floor general who commanded the respect of his teammates. Can he do the same for a young team like Sacramento, and do you project his skills to translate to the NBA well enough to demand the respect of vets?

Neal: Burke may undergo an adjustment period when he first enters the league and has to acclimate to the bigger, more athletic guards in the league, but it is his competitive nature that makes him intriguing, even as a rookie. I have little doubt that Burke will endear himself to his new teammates quickly. That being said, it might take a while for the Kings locker room, which is so emotionally connected to Thomas after last season, to warm to Burke at the helm.

Nov 09, 2012; Waco, TX, USA; Lehigh Mountain Hawks guard C.J. McCollum (3) dribbles during the game against the Baylor Bears at the Ferrell Center. Baylor won 99-77. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

ARP: C.J. McCollum, like current Kings guards Tyreke Evans and Jimmer Fredette, is somewhat of a tweener. Do you believe a McCollum-Evans backcourt pairing could work in the NBA?

Neal: A McCollum-Evans backcourt pairing only works if the Kings firmly believe that Tyreke is the answer at point guard moving forward. One of McCollum’s most glaring weaknesses is his inability to facilitate an offense. Now, a lot of that has to do with him being “the guy” for Lehigh, but for the McCollum-Evans dynamic to work, the former would have to play more off the ball, while the latter would assume the role of floor general.

ARP: What skills, if any, does Michael Carter-Williams bring that make him stand above the current guards on the Kings roster?

Neal: Carter-Williams is an interesting prospect because of his size, defensive skills and ball handling ability. Carter-Williams’ ability to guard three different positions makes him stand out when compared to those currently on the Kings’ roster. Pairing Carter-Williams alongside Marcus Thornton, John Salmons or even Evans would give Sacramento an incredibly physical duo, one capable of matching up with any backcourt in the league.

ARP: If you’re GM of the Kings and you need one point guard to lead the new era of basketball that is building in Sacramento, which guard do you draft, or do you put your faith in Isaiah Thomas?

Neal: There are quite a few good point guards in this year’s draft, but none that I would want to mold a franchise around. Thomas has done nothing but exceed expectations since coming into the league, and he is a great galvanizing figure both on and off the court. It is in the Kings best interest to put their faith in Thomas for the immediate future. He brings a type of electricity to the arena that you cannot overlook.

You can read more of Neal’s insight at the Examiner NBA Draft page, or follow him on Twitter (@njleitereg).

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Tags: 2013 NBA Draft C.J. McCollum Michael Carter-Williams Trey Burke

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