It all started so promisingly.
The Sacramento Kings kicked off Draft Night 2016 by trading Marco Belinelli (one down, one to go) to the Charlotte Hornets straight up for the 22nd pick of the draft. An excellent trade, especially in light of Vlade Divac‘s previous trade foibles.
Now armed with two first round selections – the 8th and 22nd picks – the Kings seemed poised to do one of three things: pick up two quality rookies, trade up to try and grab a Kris Dunn or a Buddy Hield, or trade down for an established player in an attempt to bolster the current roster.
Somehow, Divac found a way to not really choose any one of those options. Instead, the Kings’ general manager blended the first and third choices together, dealing the eighth pick (Marquese Chriss) to the Phoenix Suns in exchange for the 13th and 28th picks, a future second rounder, and the draft rights to Serbian player Bogdan Bogdanovic.
The Kings didn’t have a great option at the eighth pick, and the Suns were willing to give up a lot for the chance to pick a raw and unproven prospect in Chriss. It was another good trade by Divac.
That’s when the Sacramento front office went off the rails. With the 13th pick, the Kings took a 7’2″, 240-pound Greek center named Georgios Papagiannis.
For most Kings fans, the first time they ever heard Papagiannis’ name was when NBA commissioner Adam Silver read it off the draft card at the podium Thursday night. The many Google searches that followed turned up a player projected by most experts to go in the second round. Why, then, did the Kings draft him in the lottery?
Yeah, he’s huge and seems to run the floor well, according to the video below. But he’s also reputed to have motor problems, according to ESPN. He put up only 5.6 points and 2.3 rebounds per game for his Greek club team and also was reported an awful defender, per Draft Express.
And it’s not like the Kings needed a center. They already had Cousins, Koufos, and last year’s first-rounder Willie Cauley-Stein. There’s no real room on the roster for Papagiannis unless Divac has a roster move waiting in the wings.
The center position got even more crowded when Sacramento drafted Kentucky product Skal Labissiere, a bargain selection at the 28th pick. Labissiere is raw, and he gets pushed around in the paint, but he showed promise offensively at Kentucky.
Ironically, the Kings’ draft night wouldn’t look quite so crazy had Divac picked Labissiere 13th and Papagiannis 28th. Of course, Sacramento still would have been left with enough centers to field a starting five (from PG to C: Cousins-WCS-Skal-Koufos-Papagiannis).
The Kings managed to draft a non-big – Malachi Richardson – with the 22nd pick, although it’s not out of the realm of possibility that the rest of the front office tricked Divac into thinking that Richardson was a center.
Given that Sacramento drafted Richardson with the pick borne from the Belinelli trade, it seems reasonable to think of the Syracuse guard as a replacement for Belinelli. Standing 6’6″ and weighing in at 200 pounds, Richardson is perfectly sized for the NBA and has a very low bar to meet as the Italian’s replacement.
Unfortunately, Richardson posted an abysmal 38.9 field goal percentage last year, so he shouldn’t be counted on as a shooter anytime soon. He does, however, have good form, which suggests that some good coaching may be able to turn Richardson into a solid, if not sharp, shooter.
With the 59th pick, Sacramento took Oklahoma guard Isaiah Cousins. It was a good, respectable pick, considering Cousins’ 41.1 three-point percentage in college, but it’s impossible to know now if Cousins will provide any sort of value as a late second-rounder.
The final piece of the Kings’ 2016 draft haul, Bogdan Bogdanovic, who probably won’t play for the Kings this upcoming season, but he’s unquestionably the most valuable new addition to the team. Bogdanovic, like Richardson, is 6’6″ and 200 pounds, but he’s a 24-year old man that has had plenty of seasoning playing for Fenerbahce Istanbul, one of Europe’s premier teams.
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Bogdanovic deserves his own breakdown article, but it is safe to say that he’s talented. The Serbian can hit from beyond the arc and off of screens, and he’s got the framework to be a solid defender. He won’t be limited to a rookie contract if he stays in Europe for another year, which provided the financial impetus for his decision to stay with Fenerbahce.
Two good trades and the solid selection of Malachi Richardson helped balance out the Kings’ draft night, but the Papagiannis selection is just too much to overcome. What’s more, Labissiere only clogs the center position.
It’s always possible that Papagiannis turns out to be some Greek diamond in the rough, but it seems more likely that Vlade Divac got a little too bold Thursday night.