Kings Decade In Review: Worst Draft Picks

Sacramento Kings Jimmer Fredette (Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)
Sacramento Kings Jimmer Fredette (Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images) /
3 of 3
(Photo by Sam Forencich/NBAE via Getty Images)
(Photo by Sam Forencich/NBAE via Getty Images) /

#3: Robinson Over Lillard

Hindsight is always 20/20 and NBA teams don’t have time for revisionist history. But in the 2012 Draft, the Kings made what seemed like the correct pick at the time. Kansas power forward Thomas Robinson was coming off of a senior season in which he averaged 17.7 points and 12 rebounds while leading his team to the National Championship game.

Kansas would lose to Anthony Davis and Kentucky, but Robinson put on quite a show. He put up 18 points and pulled down 17 rebounds in the final game of the season, causing his draft stock to skyrocket. The Kings thought they got lucky when Robinson dropped to them, and took him with the 5th overall pick.

With the 6th pick, the Trail Blazers selected Damian Lillard.

Lillard’s leadership and loyalty in addition to his All-Star level play are what makes him the biggest Kings’ draft miss of the decade. The eighth-year point guard has averaged 23.7 points in his career and is one of the best clutch shooters in the game. He is widely regarded as one of the NBA’s top 10-15 players.

But the aforementioned leadership is what would have made Lillard the perfect fit for Sacramento. He has signed contracts and extensions that have kept him in Portland for his entire career, and there has never been speculation about Lillard jumping ship or changing teams.

This trait is evidenced in a quote from Marc J. Spears’ recent cover article for ESPN spotlighting Lillard. When referencing the star player movement throughout the NBA:

"“But Dame Lillard operated as Dame Lillard. Be who you are where you are. Stay rooted. Make this work. Make it the best of itself. Bring the same thing, the same energy all the time. Ask him whom he was looking at this summer and Lillard won’t talk to you about Leonard or Davis. He’ll talk about Dirk Nowitzki, the Mavericks legend who led his team to a title in 2011 and retired after 21 years in Dallas.”"

For a team like the Kings in a city like Sacramento, where the team has to overpay to attract free agents of any kind, Lillard as a franchise centerpiece would have been ideal. He not only would have elevated the Kings through his stellar play, but the Northern California native could have given a loyal face to the team and to the city.

Adding fuel to the fire, Lillard was asked on Twitter who he thought he would ultimately be drafted by. His response:

Kings All-Decade Team. dark. Next

Thomas Robinson played in 51 games for the Sacramento Kings and averaged 4.8 points per game. He has been out of the league since 2017. “Oh, what could have been” is certainly the slogan for the Kings draft history of the last decade.