Last week, NBA Draft Examiner Neal Leitereg broke down this year’s point guard prospects, pointing out which ones might pique the interest of the Sacramento Kings in next week’s draft.
Now it’s time to take a look at the shooting guards. In taking a quick glance at the Kings roster, shooting guard doesn’t seem to be a concern. Tyreke Evans manned the spot last year and was backed up by Marcus Thornton. Additionally, Jimmer Fredette seems best suited to play off the ball.
However, with new management in the fold, nobody’s spot is safe. Evans will command a hefty raise, and the Kings may balk at paying him market value. Thornton never fully adapted to a bench role and is slated to be the highest paid player on the roster. And Fredette still has to prove he deserves significant minutes at the NBA level.
For those reasons, it’s impossible to rule out the selection of a shooter at some point in the draft.
Five Questions With NBA Draft Examiner Neal Leitereg — Shooting Guards
ARP: Most mocks have Ben McLemore as the top shooting guard off the board with little competition. Is McLemore head and shoulders above the rest of the shooting guard crop?
Neal: Is he the best shooting guard in the draft? Yes. Is he head and shoulders above the rest? Not quite. McLemore was one of the most-hyped shooting guards in the Class of 2011 and likely would have been a first-round pick in 2012 had he not been ruled ineligible for the 2011-12 season at Kansas. He has the legitimate size, explosiveness and stroke that teams want in a prototypical shooting guard. Consider him the Bradley Beal of the 2013 draft.
That being said, the gap between say McLemore and Indiana’s Victor Oladipo or Georgia’s Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, a pair of potential top-10 guards, is not that large. McLemore certainly has the highest ceiling of the three and is without question the most explosive of the bunch, but he needs the ball in his hands to make an impact. Oladipo, considered the premier wing defender in this year’s draft, excels at playing off the ball, while Caldwell-Pope, an efficient offensive player, is at his best when he is working off of screens.
ARP: New Kings coach Michael Malone is a defensive specialist, making Victor Oladipo an intriguing possibility should he fall to No. 7. Does Oladipo show enough potential offensively or will he always be a defensive stopper with minimal contributions on offense?
Neal: Oladipo will never be a guy who is going to give you 18 points on a nightly basis. That is just not going to happen. What he will give you is outstanding perimeter defense and an impressive basketball IQ to trot out on a nightly basis, which you can never have too much of in the NBA. The guy is absolutely relentless at both ends of the court, an attribute that should translate into a decent scoring average in the 12-16 PPG range.
ARP: After McLemore, Oladipo and C.J. McCollum, are there any shooting guards that you see worthy of being selected by the Kings at No. 7?
Neal: Caldwell-Pope has as much scoring potential as anyone in this draft. If the team is looking to bolster the backcourt with more firepower, he would certainly fit the bill. However, Sacramento taking a flier on Oladipo or McCollum would be the far safer bet.
ARP: With Marcus Thornton on the roster and Tyreke Evans a restricted free agent, the Kings may not need to place a priority on taking a shooting guard early. What options could be available should the Kings look for a two-guard in the second round?
Neal: Sacramento is in a prime spot to land a solid prospect at No. 36, especially in the shooting guard department. Players like NC State’s Lorenzo Brown, Georgia Tech’s Glen Rice, Jr., UNC’s Reggie Bullock and San Diego State’s Jamaal Franklin are all fringe first-round picks and could be there for the taking when the Kings are on the clock in the second round.
Bullock has a lot of John Salmons in his game, being a bigger, more physical outside shooter, while Brown is an intriguing candidate given his size (6-foot-5) and ball-handling skills. Rice, Jr., as we know, has the NBA pedigree and a solid stroke. However, if I’m the Kings, I’m hoping Franklin falls. A college veteran after three strong seasons at SDSU, Franklin has the size and scoring acumen to stick at the next level. Plus, he is someone they could potentially stash and bring along slowly behind Salmons, Thornton and Evans.
ARP: If you’re the Kings GM, are you comfortable with an Evans-Thornton shooting guard rotation, or do you maybe try to move one of those players and address the position in the draft?
Neal: It just depends on what it would take to move up in the draft to nab an elite big man. If you can sway the Cavaliers or the Magic to make a deal, Evans and the No. 7 pick do not seem like too much to give up if you are getting a shot at a Ben McLemore.
Still, an Evans-Thornton combo is not all that bad. Plus, there are a number of solid shooting guard options that will be available in free agency. Draft an Alex Len or a Cody Zeller at No. 7 and fortify the perimeter with Nick Young, J.J. Redick or Martell Webster later on.