The Sacramento Kings have had a fun night tonight.
After trading away the 24th pick and Richaun Holmes for a Trade Exception to free up cap space and trading up to the 34th pick to steal Colby Jones, the Kings stuck with their original pick for the first time tonight, drafting Jalen Slawson from Furman with the 54th pick of the draft.
Jalen Slawson is a 23-year-old, 6-foot-7, 210-power forward who had a great year at Furman. Improving significantly year over year, Slawson played five years in college and proved himself ready to take on the NBA. He also was named the 2023 SoCon Player of the Year for his performance this past season.
Slawson averaged 15.6 points per game last season, as well as 7.1 rebounds and 3.2 assists. He also averaged 1.5 blocks as well as 1.5 steals.
Notably, Slawson had 19 points and was very clutch to bring Furman back during the first round of the 2023 March Madness tournament, which saw 13-seed Furman shockingly upset 4-seed Virginia in the final moments of the game.
The Kings noticeably passed over Trayce Jackson-Davis, who headlined the Kings’ first pre-draft workouts a few weeks ago. Jackson-Davis was an All-NCAA first-team player and named the Karl Malone power forward of the year during 2023, so he may not have had a good workout with the Kings, or the Kings’ front office sees big potential in Slawson.
How Slawson will fit into the Kings line-up
Slawson was an unexpected pick for the Kings, no doubt, but there is great potential within him. He is a strong finisher who goes over defenders and uses his strength to get to the basket and can draw fouls. He also is a good defender, winning the 2022 SoCon Defensive Player of the Year. He primarily will guard forwards, as he is not extremely quick laterally on the perimeter.
If you watch his game, you can tell he has a good basketball IQ. There is a reason he has a high assist output as a forward; because he is able to see the things others around him can’t see. Of course, the competition was not as good as a power 5 school, but he clearly has the ability to find guys and move the ball to where it needs to be.
Albeit more recently acquired, Slawson has become a reliable three-point shooter. If the ball is passed to him while spotted up, he can knock it down with no problem.
He also is a great shot blocker and meets attackers at the rim.
Slawson can improve on his pull-up jumpers, where he struggles significantly. He also struggles with turnovers and his left hand. On the move, he struggles to keep the ball sometimes and his passes can be misplaced, and he does not have great driving abilities with his left hand yet.
Much of this can be significantly improved with coaching and just developing more as a player. While he will be 24 years old for most of the next season, he still will have initial NBA growth and can be a great asset for the Kings, who notably need help at the wing.
Slawson will have to work hard but with a bit of fine-tuning some very learnable things, he can be a great option. We are all looking forward to his success.