Kings grab prospects with potential

Sacramento Kings (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Sacramento Kings (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

While picking Keegan Murray at 4 in the NBA draft has garnered most of the attention, the Sacramento Kings weren’t finished on Thursday night.

The Kings traded their two second round picks for the rights to Sasha Vezenkov and for two future second round picks, but the Kings also grabbed several premium undrafted prospects for the summer league.

It may have been preferred that the Kings use a second round pick on a player like Jabari Walker and picked up some great undrafted prospects to further develop, however, now is the time to praise, not criticize, the Kings for doing something well.

Keon Ellis, Jared Rhoden, Jeriah Horne, Jai Smith, and Alex O’Connell will all participate in the summer league for the Sacramento Kings.

Keon Ellis made the 2021-2022 SEC All-Defensive Team while knocking down 37% of his 3-pointers last season. Ellis stands at 6’3.50″ without shoes, 6’4.75″ in shoes, with a 6’8.50″ wingspan.

Last season he averaged 12 pts, 6.1 rebs, 1.8 ast, 1.9 stls, and .6 blks a game for Alabama. He shot 5.5 threes a game and made 2 of them for 36.6% from behind the arc.

Alabama coach Nate Oates has referred to Ellis as “your classic 3-and-D guy.”

The fact that the Kings signed him is impressive. They don’t get a lot of the top undrafted prospects. Signing Ellis to a two-way contract was a great move for the Kings.

Jared Rhoden was one of the prospects I mentioned in my 5 interesting second round players article earlier this week.

Jared Rhoden is a 22 year old shooting guard/small forward who stands at 6’5 with a 6’10 wingspan. Last season at Seton Hall he averaged 15.5 pts, 6.7 rebs, and 1.2 stls a game.

The summer league is a great opportunity for Rhoden to prove that he can defend and rebound against NBA talent. He may not be make the Kings roster, but he has a chance to make an NBA team if his shot can find some consistency.

Jeriah Horne is 6’7 with a 6’8 wingspan. Richard Stayman has a nice breakdown on Horne:

Arguably the best sleeper shooter in the draft, Jeriah Horne has gained some traction as the draft approaches. As a sixth year senior, Horne averaged 16 PPG, 7 RPG, 1.5 APG, 1.3 SPG, 0.7 BPG, and 2 TOPG on shooting splits of 44/42/84.

Jeriah Horne is a sharpshooting wing with a strong motor that reflects his religious work ethic.

Horne’s main NBA trait will always come down to shooting, and the strengths come from within the subset of shooting: stand-still shooting, movement shooting, shooting with range, and ability to fake and shoot off the catch. With a lightning fast release, Horne’s shooting versatility makes him an intriguing shooter.

Beyond shooting, Horne never takes a play off, and he is always working to get better on his game. His motor, size, and instincts allow him to stay in most plays defensively. In Portsmouth at the Portsmouth Invitational (PIT) he was knocking down shots, scoring 20+ points, while also holding his own on drives defensively. If this defensive ability due to intensity and IQ translates to at least hold his own and not be a liability, Horne has a good chance of sticking in the NBA. 

Players with Horne’s intangibles and elite shooting ability make him worth gambling on as an investment as a shooter that could eventually earn minutes in the NBA. As Horne continues to go through interviews and workouts, I expect him to make a strong impression on front office personnel, which will get him chances in Summer League, the G League, and training camp.

Jai Smith is 6’7 with a 6’9 wingspan and weighs 211 lbs. He played for Overtime Elite and averaged 9 pts, 7.3 rebs, 1.1 asts, 1 stl, and .7 blks a game.  You can read an interview with him here.

Global Scouting had this to say about Smith:

A very good athlete that possess a high vertical and a strong body frame. Runs the floor well and is a lob threat at all times. Can pull off impressive dunks. 

Upside to be a versatile defender that can defend multiple positions. A solid weak side shot blocker due to his vertical pop and timing. 

Good offensive rebounder that has a high motor when attacking the glass. Typically seen fighting for the rebound on both sides of the floor. High energy forward. 

Alex O’ Connell was also picked up for the summer league. He stands at 6’6 and averaged 11.8 pts, 5.3 rebs, 2.1 asts, and .9 stls a game last season for Creighton.

He seems like the least likely prospect out of the 5 to make a NBA team.

Schuyler Callihan says:

O’Connell has struggled with consistency throughout his collegiate career which will likely mean he will get his start in the G-League as an undrafted free agent. Under the right development program, there’s a chance he could make it on to an NBA roster down the line.

But everyone loves an underdog story. Maybe O’Connell will catch someone’s eye and find a spot in the NBA. Matt DeMarinis has a nice article about O’Connell:

 He transferred out of Duke after averaging around 13 minutes per game over three years in a reserve role and came to Creighton with just one year of eligibility remaining. His desire to play a more prominent role for a winning program led him to Omaha, but the 2021-22 season was always going to be one and done for him. It was his last chance to prove himself. After starting all 33 games, averaging career-bests in scoring (11.5 ppg), rebounding (5.3 rpg), facilitating (2.1 apg), and playing a major two-way role for a team that has reached the grandest stage in the sport, he can say with confidence that he accomplished that goal.

There’s a good chance none of these prospects make an NBA roster, but they are solid prospects who have the potential to add value even when they aren’t scoring. These are the type of players the Kings need to find in the second round or in the undrafted free agency.

Well done Sacramento. Hopefully we find a diamond that slipped through the NBA draft.