Notable Kings first round draft picks in the team’s history in Sacramento

(FOX40.COM) — Following Sunday’s NBA Draft Lottery, the Sacramento Kings will have the 13th pick in this year’s NBA Draft in June.

The Kings were in the draft lottery after a disappointing end to the 2023-24 season. The team fell short of a second straight playoff appearance following a loss to the New Orleans Pelicans in the 8th seed game of the Play-In Tournament.

In recent years, the Kings have missed out on some superstars in the draft, but they have selected some of their current core players, such as De’Aaron Fox and Keegan Murray, in the top 5.

Fox has transform into one of the league’s top scorers years after getting selected fifth overall by the Kings in 2017. Murray was selected fourth overall in 2022 and is projected to be part of the Kings’ future.

Here’s a look at some of the Kings’ most notable draft picks during the Sacramento era (1985 to present).

Kings’ first ever pick in Sacramento

The Kings’ first draft pick in the Sacramento era was Joe Kleine, who selected sixth overall in 1985. Kleine arrived to the league as a center from Arkansas and went on to have a 15-year career in the NBA with four of those seasons in Sacramento.

His best season was with the Kings in 1987-88, where he averaged 9.8 points and 7.1 rebounds per game, which are both career highs.

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‘The Jet’ goes to Sacramento

Years before be became a commentator for the popular show “Inside the NBA,” Kenny “The Jet” Smith was one of Kings’ earliest draft picks in Sacramento.

Smith was selected sixth overall by the Kings in the 1987 draft and immediately became a stater. He was named to the NBA All-Rooke First Team after averaging 13.8 points and 7.1 assists per game.

Smith’s stint in Sacramento ended after three seasons following a trade to the Atlanta Hawks midway through the 1989-90 season.

Kings select key member of golden years

The Kings selected Peja Stojakovic with the 14th pick of the first round in 1996 NBA Draft, but wouldn’t make his debut two seasons later due to playing in Greece.

After making his debut during the lockout shortened 1998-99 season, Stojakovic later became a prominent member of the Kings’ golden years in the early 2000s.

Stojakovic became a three-time all-star in Sacramento and his No. 16 jersey would later become retired by the Kings.

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The ‘Boogie’ Cousins years 

Once considered one of the most talented players in the league, DeMarcus Cousins entered the NBA after getting selected by the Kings fifth overall in the 2010 draft.

Cousins played in Sacramento for seven seasons and averaged 21.1 points and 10.8 rebounds per game during his career with the Kings. However, his time in Sacramento was polarizing due to multiple incidents, fines and suspensions. 

His time in Sacramento came to end after getting traded to the New Orleans Pelicans midway through the 2016-17 season.

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Kings select eventual all-star

The Kings drafted Tyrese Haliburton with the 12th overall pick in the 2020 draft and looked poised to become a vital piece of the team’s future.

Haliburton finished with NBA All-Rookie First Team honors, but he would get traded to the Indiapolis Pacers midway through his second season in a move that brought Domantas Sabonis to Sacramento.

Since joining the Pacers, Haliburton has made back-to-back all-star selections, as a reserve in 2023 and as a starter in 2024.

Haliburton finished the 2023-24 season with an average of 20.1 points and a career-high 10.9 assists while helping the Pacers clinched a spot in the 2023-24 playoffs as the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference.

Other notable first round picks

Jason Williams (seventh overall, 1998)
Gerald Wallace (25th overall, 2001)
•Kevin Martin (26th overall, 2004)
Tyreke Evans (fourth overall, 2009)
Davion Mitchell (ninth overall, 2021)

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