With less than a week left until draft night, all the prospects have been poked, prodded, examined and interviewed. Their strengths and weaknesses have been dissected under a microscope for years. On Thursday, the wait is over.
It’s finally time to make a big board and pick the players who will help lead the new era in Sacramento Kings basketball.
For the past month, Bryant West and I have further studied prospects we followed throughout the college season. For A Royal Pain’s Cumulative Big Board, we each ranked our top 20 prospects in regard to the Kings. The average of the two rankings was then taken, and an overall ranking was given.
Below you’ll find the result along with commentary. The number in parentheses is that player’s ranking on our individual boards. In case of a tie, the Draft Express Top 100 Prospects ranking was used as the tiebreaker.
A Royal Pain’s Cumulative Sacramento Kings Big Board
#1 NERLENS NOEL, C, KENTUCKY
Scott: (2) His defensive ability and athletic gifts for a man of his size are enough to overcome any injury concern and offensive weaknesses.
Bryant: (1) Would be a fantastic fit next to Cousins and give the Kings their first elite shotblocker ever.
#2 OTTO PORTER, SF, GEORGETOWN
Scott: (1) Maybe a glue guy initially but Porter has the potential to be the best player in this class.
Bryant: (2) The best pure “fit” for Sacramento in the draft with his defensive tenacity and all-around skill set.
#3 BEN MCLEMORE, SG, KANSAS
Scott: (3) Not sure he’s as good a prospect as Bradley Beal was last year, but too much potential offensively for him to fall too far.
Bryant: (3) Concerns over his “determination” are overblown. A higher-potential version of Bradley Beal, who was No. 3 last year.
#4 VICTOR OLADIPO, SG, INDIANA
Scott: (5) Extremely hard worker who will find ways to contribute offensively while playing shutdown defense.
Bryant: (4) Doesn’t play a position of need, but the defensive abilities and athleticism are too good to leave on the board here.
#5 TREY BURKE, PG, MICHIGAN
Scott: (4) The kid can play and has proved it on the biggest stage. His lack of size is overblown — don’t forget his 6’5″ wingspan.
Bryant: (5) A consummate winner and the best all-around point guard in the draft, an obvious above-average “starter” quality player even if not an All-Star.
#6 SHABAZZ MUHAMMAD, G/F, UCLA
Scott: (6) Perhaps the best pure scorer in the draft, Muhammad can fill it up inside and out.
Bryant: (8) I wouldn’t mind a Muhammad selection, as I’d trust that Mike Malone could make him a better defender and team player. Still, the concerns for those two reasons (defense, ball-dominant) are omnipresent.
#7 CODY ZELLER, F/C, INDIANA
Scott: (7) Big men who are as athletic as Zeller often don’t have the offensive potential he displays.
Bryant: (9) He’s grown on me as the draft gets closer. Still worry about his strength and defense, but he’d be a smart offensive fit next to Cousins.
#8 MICHAEL CARTER-WILLIAMS, PG, SYRACUSE
Scott: (13) He’s a tall point guard, and I understand the allure. MCW has gifts, but I think he’s a ways away from contributing at the NBA level.
Bryant: (6) Might end up better than Burke with his size, athleticism, play-making skills and defensive IQ. My draft crush for the year (no matter what Scott says).
#9 C.J. MCCOLLUM, G, LEHIGH
Scott: (9) Either he transitions to point guard or becomes a combo guard off the bench, but the versatility and scoring is intriguing.
Bryant: (11) I love the 62.8% true shooting, but not the 24.9% assist rate and the 37% usage rate. Gets compared to Curry, but Curry was a far better floor general in college.
#10 DENNIS SCHROEDER, PG, GERMANY
Scott: (8) Rising in my mind, Schroeder looks the part with amazing handles and incredible burst. Developmental project who could hit it big.
Bryant: (12) A slight unknown, but has all the skills and potential to be a well-rounded playmaking point guard. Would still much rather have Burke or Carter-Williams.
#11 ALEX LEN, C, MARYLAND
Scott: (14) I don’t see a star in the making, but he’s got noticeable skills on both ends. As a 7-footer, that’s enough to get drafted high.
Bryant: (7) The size and all-around potential would give Sacramento a true twin-towers combo with Cousins, although I’d be worried about guarding smaller PFs.
#12 ANTHONY BENNETT, F, UNLV
Scott: (12) Not ready to commit to him as a star, but he’s got skills — scoring, rebounding — that could help him carve out a significant role.
Bryant: (10) I hate the fit and am extremely worried about his lack of defense, but at this point, the talent outweighs the concerns.
#13 KENTAVIOUS CALDWELL-POPE, SG, GEORGIA
Scott: (11) KCP can straight score the rock from the outside. How he develops the rest of his game will determine his ceiling.
Bryant: (13) Like Oladipo, he doesn’t play a position of need, but at some point his athleticism and well-rounded skill set can’t be ignored.
#14 GORGUI DIENG, C, LOUISVILLE
Scott: (10) Maybe lacks huge upside, but Dieng is ready to contribute today and can likely play a long time thanks to his size, ability and basketball IQ.
Bryant: (16) I like the shot blocking, but his overall potential (23 years old), defensive impact and passing skills have all become vastly overrated by Kings fans.
#15 GIANNIS ADETOKUNBO, SF, GREECE
Scott: (17) Very raw player but has a nice base with good offensive skill and the length on defense to stop three positions.
Bryant: (15) The biggest unknown in the draft. The athleticism and complete all-around potential are very high, high enough to be a top 5 player in the class, but he has never played against class A competition.
#16 SERGEY KARASEV, SF, RUSSIA
Scott: (15) I see a young Toni Kukoc — a lefty with a good feel for the game and great stroke who will need to get stronger and tougher.
Bryant: (17) Much less raw than Giannis Adetokunbo with a good shooting ability and a high basketball IQ but his defense is questionable at best.
#17 STEVEN ADAMS, C, PITTSBURGH
Scott: (20) Similar to Meyers Leonard last year — very athletic, great length but probably never more than a third big man.
Bryant: (14) Much like Len, the strength and defensive potential would create an interesting partnership with Cousins. Very raw offensively, but more mobile against smaller bigs.
#18 MASON PLUMLEE, C, DUKE
Scott: (16) Limited offensive skills, but he’s got a size/athleticism combo that should help him as a rotational big.
#19 RUDY GOBERT, C, FRANCE
Bryant: (18) The defensive potential is immense, but the offensive game is as raw as they come. The definition of boom-or-bust.
#20 TONY MITCHELL, F, NORTH TEXAS
Scott: (18) Josh Smith lite — athletic shot blocker, immature offensively, questionable work ethic. Toward the mid-late 1st round he’s worth the gamble.
#21 REGGIE BULLOCK, SF, NORTH CAROLINA
Bryant: (19) Call me crazy, but I think Bullock will surprise some people. Nothing about his game screams “excellence” but he’s a good shooter, a good defender, and best of all, is a true small forward.
#22 ISAIAH CANAAN, PG, MURRAY STATE
Scott: (19) Absolutely lit up the nets for Murray State and has a chiseled frame that should stand up to the rigors of the NBA.
#23 TIM HARDAWAY JR., SG, MICHIGAN
Bryant: (20) Doesn’t come with immense potential, but the shooting and basketball IQ are both above-average.