It was easy to praise Monte McNair for drafting the best player in Keegan Murray and for signing Keon Ellis and Jared Rhoden after the 2022 NBA Draft. While casuals and the media were trashing the Sacramento Kings, I wanted to praise the good things they had accomplished.
It has been three weeks since the NBA Draft and it is now time to criticize McNair. Once again, the Kings failed to draft a second-round pick who could bring value to the team.
The second round is still important. Strong starters and rotational players can absolutely be found in the second round. Sacramento does not have a great track record in the second round and simply needs to be better.
In the 2022 NBA Draft, McNair traded one second-round pick for the rights to Sasha Vezenkov and the other for two future second-round picks. Adding two second-round picks for the price of one seems like good value, but if the Kings don’t use them wisely, why even bother?
Maybe I’m nitpicking. Maybe I’m just venting because once again, a player I wanted went to another team. But how great would it have been if McNair instead drafted Jabari Walker in the second round, signed Ellis as an undrafted free agent, and signed Rhoden to the Summer League team?
The Sacramento Kings missed out on Jabari Walker.
Jabari Walker was drafted with the 57th pick by the Portland Trail Blazers. Through four Summer League games, he is averaging 12 points, 8.5 rebounds, 1.5 assists, .5 steals, and .8 blocks in 21 minutes per game. He is shooting 67% from the field, 44% from behind the arc, and has been a +11 when he is on the court.
Though it is extremely early, he has already been called the “steal of the draft” by Bryan Kalbrosky. I won’t go that far, but Walker was my favorite second-round prospect out of the players I scouted.
It seems like every time the Kings do anything good they always miss out on something that would have made the team just a little better. Missed opportunity after miss opportunity is one of the main reasons why the Kings are in a sixteen-year playoff drought.
Even if McNair improves the roster with more moves this summer, I will still wonder if the Sacramento Kings missed out on another gem in the second round. Only time will tell.