Kings GM Monte McNair explains 'best player available' NBA draft philosophy

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What 'best player available' draft ethos means to Kings GM McNair originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

As a small-market team, the Kings don't have the same reach as other teams when it comes to attracting free agents.

That’s why the 2022 NBA Draft is key for general manager Monte McNair and the team’s brass. The Kings have three selections, including a lottery pick which is likely to be No. 8 or higher.

Even if the ping pong balls bounce their way and the Kings’ 7.5 percent chance at getting the No. 1 overall pick comes to fruition, they’ll still have to make a tough decision, as there hasn’t yet appeared to be a consensus top pick for this year’s draft.

Armed with a lottery pick and two second-round selections, McNair spoke to reporters last week about his draft philosophy and what choosing the “best player available” means to him.

“For us, the draft is one of the few times that you can add, usually, a younger player,” McNair said. “Often, guys, when they reach free agency, they’re multiple years into their career.”

McNair pointed to Davion Mitchell as the “best player available” on the board last year because he was “already an impactful winning player,” coming off a championship in his junior year with Baylor before the Kings selected him with the ninth pick in the 2021 NBA Draft.

Mitchell averaged 11.5 points, 4.2 assists and 2.2 rebounds in 75 games as a rookie. At age 23, he emerged as a potential building block for a Kings franchise that missed the playoffs for the 16th straight year and will have another new coach next season.

Related: De'Aaron Fox likens Davion Mitchell's work ethic to Kobe Bryant

McNair, entering his third draft with the Kings since being hired in 2020, said Sacramento wants to draft players with strong work ethic, good character and the desire to continue to grow.

“We want a guy who’s going to impact from day one, and hopefully for years and years to come,” McNair said. “It’s hard to give a specific answer there. But we want the player who’s going to come in and help us not just for one year, not just five years from now. So, [the] best player for us is the guy who’s going to do that regardless of position and different things like that.”