Top 3: The Kings and the Lethal Lottery


June 28, 2012; Newark, NJ, USA; Thomas Robinson (Kansas), right, is introduced as the number five overall pick to the Sacramento Kings by NBA commissioner David Stern during the 2012 NBA Draft at the Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY SportsLethal: adj; sufficient to cause death. If Kings fans could choose one word to coin the NBA Draft Lottery, lethal would indeed suffice.

Since It’s inception in 1985, the NBA Draft Lottery has done nothing but give Kings fans false hope. Every year, fans gather around the TV, anticipating the Kings finally cracking the top 3 and finding themselves in position to land that ever so illusive franchise changing player, and every year those dreams are doused in mid-lottery kerosene, torched, leaving fans with nothing but images of Joe Kleine, Walt Williams, Spencer Hawes, and Jimmer Fredette haunting them throughout the flames.

The Kings have drafted in the top three TWICE since the NBA went away from It’s “Coin Flip” system after the 1984 draft, and have NEVER moved up in the “Weighted Lottery System.”

The Kings gained the #1 overall pick in 1989 during the “Envelope Lottery System” (for a better understanding of that, here’s the rigged 1985 draft lottery). Of course, the Kings would draft first in arguably the worst draft class of the lottery era, select a player they never even scouted (1986 NCAA tournament hero Pervis Ellison), and trade him the following season to Washington for a pack of Twizzlers (Well, it may as well have been a pack of Twizzlers, but was actually Eric Leckner, Bobby Hansen, and a draft pick that turned into Anthony Bonner, better known for this “on-court” incident.)

A year later, the NBA shifted to the weighted lottery system (PING PONG BALLS!!!) to


give teams with the worst records a better chance at landing a top three overall pick. While never actually moving up in the draft, (I could write an entire piece on all the times the Kings were leap frogged in the lottery, but for the sake of your health and mine, let’s just avoid that topic) the Kings did manage to land the third overall pick in 1991, selecting a mythological figure of sorts, Billy Owens.

By the time the 2014 lottery rolls around, it will have been 23 years and 14 draft lotteries since the Kings last selected in the top three. Yes, the lottery is absolutely lethal.

Now for the fun part. Let’s imagine the Kings actually move into the top 3 this year. Kings fans will tell me I’m crazy because of all the past bad luck. Conspiracy theorist will tell me it’s impossible seeing that the Celtics, Lakers, and Sixers are all in the lottery with us, and the NBA will do everything in its power to ensure three of its marquee franchises get to choose from the cream of the crop in what’s considered the best draft class since 2003. Normally I’d agree with all of the above, but I just can’t anymore. Lottery luck (or lack thereof) has to finally take a turn in the Kings favor, right??? Well, I’m probably wrong, but for fun, let’s take a look at the top three prospects in the 2014 NBA Draft who could become Kings!

Joel Embiid C Kansas Mar 1, 2014; Stillwater, OK, USA; Kansas Jayhawks center Joel Embiid (21) shoots a free throw during the second half against the Oklahoma State Cowboys at Gallagher-Iba Arena. Oklahoma State beat Kansas 72-65. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

So I was definitely late to jump on the Embiid bandwagon, but I’m definitely glad I did. A legit seven footer, Embiid is very agile for his size, having played both soccer and volleyball in his native Cameroon. Embiid is a tremendous rebounder and uses his long frame to alter shots on the defensive end. On the offensive end, Embiid has very good shot mechanics, despite his lack of experience. He also displays a good back to the basket game, which is only going to get better with experience. Health could be an issue with Embiid, who missed the NCAA Tournament with a lower back injury. Whether or not the injury will be a nagging one is still unknown, but it can’t be a good sign that a freshman center had to miss such an extended amount of time with injuries. Will he be able to handle the rigors of a full NBA season?

How does he fit with the Kings: The prospect of pairing Embiid next to DeMarcus Cousins is one that will have Kings fans salivating at the mouth. Cousins has hinted that he would like to slide down to Power Forward, playing alongside a shot blocking Center. Cousins and Embiid have the potential to be a very intimidating front court for a very long time.

Andrew Wiggins SF Kansas Mar 23, 2014; St. Louis, MO, USA; Kansas Jayhawks guard Andrew Wiggins (22) lays the ball up past Stanford Cardinal forward/center John Gage (40) during the second half in the third round of the 2014 NCAA Men

Arguably the most hyped amateur prospect since LeBron James, Wiggins didn’t quite live up to the lofty expectations many “experts” put forth upon him before the season started. Despite that, Wiggins still has all the makings of an NBA star. A wiry 6-8 with a 7-0 wingspan, Wiggins draws a lot of comparisons to Scottie Pippen, not just because of the similar body frame, but because of Wiggins outstanding perimeter defense. Wiggins also showed he’s a very capable scorer, averaging 17.1 points per game. The knock on Wiggins is that he can get somewhat lackadaisical during games, not being aggressive when he should be getting to the basket at will.

How does he fit with the Kings: If the Kings are in a position to draft Wiggins, that could lead to some very interesting lineup issues. Wiggins is a Small Forward and the Kings will want to plug him into the starting lineup immediately. However, it will be hard to justify starting Wiggins over Rudy Gay (assuming he opts in). The Kings could slide Wiggins down to the two-guard spot, although that could make it tough on Wiggins to find shots in an offense already featuring Cousins, Gay and Thomas.

An ideal situation for the Kings would be for Gay to opt out should they draft Wiggins. Gay has been great for the Kings, but his $19.3 million option would create tremendous strain on the Kings cap flexibility, plus the addition of a top three pick’s salary and the assumed re-signing of Isaiah Thomas would assuredly put the Kings in the luxury tax.

Jabari Parker SF/PF Duke Mar 21, 2014; Raleigh, NC, USA; Duke Blue Devils forward Jabari Parker (1) shoots the ball against Mercer Bears forward Jakob Gollon (20) in the first half of a men

Parker has been deemed by many as the most NBA ready prospect in the draft. There isn’t much Parker can’t do on the offensive end, showing an ability to drive to the basket, post up defenders, and knock down the outside shot all on a consistent basis. Parker also averaged almost 9 rebounds a game for the Blue Devils this past season. The big knock on Parker is his inability to guard quicker small forwards on the defensive end. Parker will have a very hard time staying in front of NBA small forwards, and will most likely be better positioned as a stretch four in the NBA.

How does he fit with the Kings: Parker could conceivably be a perfect stretch four in the Kings starting lineup. His outside range and ability to get to the basket will free up a lot of room for DeMarcus Cousins on the low block. A starting lineup of Isaiah Thomas, Ben McLemore, Rudy Gay, Jabari Parker, and DeMarcus Cousins could put up a lot of points. It could also give up just as many.