COMMENTARY | Some might argue the Sacramento Kings' run of good luck hit a bump at the NBA draft lottery on Tuesday, May 21.
The Kings had the sixth most ping pong balls in the annual absurdity that is the NBA draft lottery and a 6.3-percent chance of coming away with the top pick. However, they were leapfrogged by the Washington Wizards and now own pick #7.
To be honest, it matters little whether the Kings end up picking third or ninth this year. Ben McLemore and Nerlens Noel appear to be the consensus top two picks (though draft prognosticators differ on whom will go first). After the top two, nobody really knows how this draft will shake out. And even McLemore and Noel are far from slam dunks in a draft that doesn't feature a can't-miss prospect like LeBron James or Kyrie Irving.
Given that the Kings need help at virtually every position, it will be easy for them to approach this draft with the best-player-available mentality. Any of the following are strong possibilities, based upon who slips between picks 3 and 6.
Option 1 - Trey Burke, PG, Michigan. The Kings are in desperate need of help at the point guard position, and they also suffer from a leadership vacuum. Trey Burke could be the ideal antidote to a locker room that's poisoned with selfish, egocentric play.
Scouting reports on Burke note that he leads, he competes, he puts forth maximum effort, and he plays defense. The primary downside on Burke is his size, which may be an overrated criticism. Wasn't this the knock on Ty Lawson? It may be moot, as there's a good chance Burke will be long gone by the 7th pick.
Option 2 - C.J. McCollum, PG, Lehigh. If Burke is off the board when the Kings are picking, McCollum wouldn't be the worst consolation prize. He's an incredible scorer whom has been compared to Steph Curry. The Curry comparison is particularly apt, because the main worry with McCollum was the level of competition he faced in college. Similar concerns surrounded Curry, a product of Davidson. McCollum should be available at #7.
Option 3 - Anthony Bennett, PF, UNLV. Last year, the Kings whiffed on Kansas power forward Thomas Robinson, whom was traded to Houston after just a 50-game stint in Sacramento. Jason Thompson is a steady but lackluster player, and the Kings are in need of additional help in the front court. Bennett's offensive repertoire is much more advanced than anyone else on the Kings roster, and his tenacity could be infectious.
Option 4 - Victor Oladipo, SG, Indiana. Though he plays a different position than Burke, I like Oladipo for a lot of the same reasons. He hustles, he has a strong work ethic, and he plays defense (a rare sight in Sacramento). The Kings have Tyreke Evans at the off-guard position now, but he has regressed since his rookie year and might be best as a sixth man, or packaged in a trade. Oladipo won't solve the Kings' shooting woes, but his defense, his potential, and his intangibles still make him an attractive pick at the top of the first round.
Option 5 - Alex Len, C, Maryland. If Len is the pick, it's a good sign that DeMarcus Cousins will be issued his walking papers. In an earlier piece, I noted that the issue of what to do about Cousins is one of the five big questions facing the new Kings ownership. If the Kings do trade Cousins, Len would be an ideal selection with the seventh pick. He has a prototypical center's body at 7 feet and 250 pounds. Len can shoot the mid-range jumper and still bang around in the interior, fight for rebounds, and block shots. Of all the players on this list, he's the most likely to be available at #7.
Doug Brockwell is a lifelong follower of NBA basketball who grew up cheering for the Denver Nuggets. After relocating to Northern California in 2008, he began to follow the Sacramento Kings, who remind him of the endearingly hapless Nuggets squads of the '90s that he endured as a kid.
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