The Sacramento Kings were elated to be able to pick Thomas Robinson with their first pick, fearing the power forward from Kansas wouldn't be available at No. 5.
A number of scouts, NBA executives and college coaches said Robinson is the only other player in the draft besides No. 1 pick Anthony Davis who is immediately game-ready. At 6-foot-9, Robinson can run, rebound, defend and score in the paint.
He is especially ready on defense, and the Kings desperately need rebounding and defense. His emerging offensive skills will surely boost a franchise that already has one potential All-Star in center DeMarcus Cousins. The Kings allowed the most points in the NBA last season.
Robinson averaged 17.7 points and 11.9 rebounds in powering Kansas to the NCAA title game and in earning Big 12 Player of the Year honors.
What also makes Robinson stand out is his character. He's lived a lot already, fueled by tremendous personal loss. When NBA commissioner David Stern announced that the Kings had picked him, Robinson broke down and embraced his 9-year-old sister, Jayla.
In January 2011, Jayla phoned Robinson with the news that their mother had died of a brain aneurysm at 43 in their hometown of Washington, D.C. Their mother, Lisa Robinson, raised the kids alone -- their father left the family years ago (Jayla is a half sister to Robinson). Robinson lost his grandparents shortly before he lost his mother. Jayla will move to California with Robinson, who is in the process of adopting her.
The Kings have parlayed recent picks to craft a team seemingly poised to climb out of the Pacific Division cellar. Tyreke Evans was the Kings' first pick in 2009 and was the NBA's Rookie of the Year in 2010, though his averages dipped to 16.6 points, 4.6 rebounds and 4.5 assists last season after he was moved from point guard to small forward. He was moved to allow Isaiah Thomas, the Kings' second-round pick last season, to be the point guard.
The Kings pulled a surprise with their second and final pick, No. 36 overall. Sacramento traded that spot to the Indiana Pacers for cash considerations. The Pacers used it to select UC Santa Barbara guard Orlando Johnson.
What's odd is the Kings received no draft pick, future consideration or player in return -- just cash for a franchise that in the last two seasons kept team payroll to the bare minimum ... last in the NBA, in other words.
The Kings could theoretically use the incoming cash to help re-sign one of their veterans.