Sacramento Kings Mock Draft: 10 Stars Who Would Jell with DeMarcus Cousins
The Sacramento Kings have a potential superstar in DeMarcus Cousins, and like any team with such a player, it's time for the team to build around him as best they can.
The Kings have obvious needs going into the offseason, and while they have a stockpile of talent, the team is still coming together as a unit. Sacramento should focus on adding talent that complements its star big man, and it starts with the draft.
Luckily for the Kings, this NCAA Tournament has provided a great showcase for a number of talented prospects
Which NCAA Tournament stars could jell with Cousins? Let's take a look.
What Do the Kings Need?
Cousins is a talented force inside, with an improving array of post moves and an excellent knack for securing rebounds. His brute force and strength create tons of matchup problems for his defenders. As he improves his shooting efficiency and stops picking up so many bad fouls, he could become a legitimate All-Star.
There are some weaknesses to Cousins' game, mainly in his athleticism. His strength is unquestioned, but while he's extremely effective because of his brute size, he's unable to keep up with quicker, more athletic forwards.
In the perfect world, the Kings need an athletic defender to go alongside Cousins, a Serge Ibaka-type who can help the Kings guard the quicker bigs.
Sacramento already has forward Jason Thompson, a fringe starter at the beginning of the season who is quickly proving to be one of the more underrated bigs in the league. They also have captain Chuck Hayes, who provides excellent defense and leadership off the bench.
But while the Kings already have two legitimate starters to pair with Cousins, they could stand to improve the position and add another big, should one present himself in the draft.
The Kings also have a need at small forward, particularly someone who can both play off the ball and is a quick and athletic defender. Sacramento already has enough potential volume scorers—Cousins being the foremost of them.
The Kings' perimeter defense also needs serious work. While Cousins is an intimidating force inside for driving opponents, he's not agile enough to be a big-time threat.
The Kings biggest needs are at both the forward spots, preferably someone who is both athletic and can play off the ball. Which of the NCAA Tournament stars could fit that bill?
Here are 10 (not in rank order) who could be a solid fit.
Harrison Barnes, North Carolina
Harrison Barnes is a favorite among the Kings faithful, but his production in the NCAA Tournament did signal some serious warning signs.
Barnes had a poor finish to the season, scoring 14.3 points on just 33 percent shooting in his last 10 games. He's a very solid shooter, which would help the Kings. But he's neither an above-average defender or an above-average athlete. Rather, he's a one-dimensional player at this stage in his career.
Certainly, if he learns to play off the ball and improves as a defender, he could be an answer to the Kings' biggest need. But there are certainly better fits available than Barnes.
Draymond Green, Michigan State
Draymond Green was having a monster tournament before his Spartans were sidelined by Louisville.
He posted a triple-double against LIU-Brooklyn, with 24 points, 10 assists and 12 rebounds. Two days later against Saint Louis, he had 16 points, 13 rebounds and six assists.
While not considered a lottery selection, Green will likely go late in the first round or early in the second. If he's available at that pick, Sacramento should take him. He has the size and athleticism to play small forward in the NBA, and he has an excellent all-around game.
Royce White, Iowa State
Royce White's tournament run lasted just two games, but he was absolutely magnificent in his brief appearance.
In a 77-64, first-round win over UConn, White had 15 points and 13 rebounds. In the loss against Kentucky, he had 23 points, nine rebounds, four assists and three steals, and shot 9-12 from the field. That's pretty impressive, considering he was defended by the likes of Andre Drummond, Terrance Jones and Anthony Davis in those two games.
White is considered a late first-rounder. While he may not have the athleticism you'd like, he's a strong player and well-rounded prospect. He is hampered by some off-the-court issues, so could he jell with a well-known head-case like Cousins? It'd be interesting to see, but both players share a fiery motor that many players lack.
John Henson, North Carolina
Henson was limited by his late-season wrist injury. But in terms of talent, he's an excellent fit next to Cousins.
He's basically a poor man's Anthony Davis—an excellent rebounder and shot-blocker with a set of springs for legs, Henson would compensate for Cousins' lack of athleticism and Cousins could compensate for Henson's lack of scoring ability.
Henson is a poor shooter and certainly not an NBA-level scorer, but he's improved in each of his three seasons at North Carolina.
As long as Henson remains committed to filling out his size (he's 6'11, but weighs just 220 pounds) and continues to work on his scoring abilities, he'd give the Kings some interior defense they could really use.
Terrence Jones, Kentucky
Jones, much like Andre Drummond of UConn and Perry Jones of Baylor, has been dogged by questions about his motivation and dedication for the game. Unlike Drummond and Jones, both who failed to prove their doubters wrong in the tournament, Jones has been very solid for Kentucky so far.
Talent-wise, Jones has always been an intriguing prospect, but his work ethic remains questionable. He's a good shooter and talented and big enough to score in the post. He's an above-average defender—when he wants to be—and athletic enough that he averages 1.8 blocks a game.
He's sometimes far too ball-needy, and that's a concern for Sacramento. Hopefully, Cousins could lend Jones some of his over-the-top passion, because if he gets his head on straight and buys into the team concept, Jones could be a steal of a pick.
James McAdoo, North Carolina
McAdoo's name is climbing up the draft boards thanks to an impressive couple of weeks for the Tar Heel freshman. After spending most of the season coming off the bench behind John Henson and Tyler Zeller, McAdoo starting getting consistent starter-level minutes late in the season.
He's a very talented low-post scorer who has a well-rounded game for a big man. He's a lot like current King Jason Thompson. He lacks any serious weakness but lacks star potential.
The big concern is McAdoo's lack of playing time. Could he impress enough in a workout to convince a lottery team that they should pick him, despite his playing just 15.8 minutes a contest?
A well-rounded talent who impressed late in the season, McAdoo could be a solid fit next to Cousins if the Kings felt he was worth a top-10 selection.
Jeff Taylor, Vanderbilt
Taylor didn't fare well in the third round of the tournament, when he scored just nine points on 4-12 shooting. But he'd already come up with some big games late in the season.
Taylor had 18 points and 11 rebounds in Vanderbilt's SEC championship win over Kentucky. He averaged 16.1 points, 5.6 rebounds and 1.3 steals a contest this season while shooting 49.3 percent from the field. He's very athletic and a great wing defender. He could be a solid fit for the Kings at small forward.
Certainly he's not a lottery selection. But late in the first round or early in the second, if he lasts that long, would be a good place to take a flyer on him.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Kentucky
Kidd-Gilchrist has been absolutely tearing it up down the stretch, and his draft stock is soaring. You know who loses in this? Sacramento.
Back when he was mocked to go around picks 5-7 in the first round, there was a chance that he'd still be around when the Kings might be selecting. Now that he's locking up a top-three spot, behind only teammate Anthony Davis for sure, the Kings will have to win the lottery to get Kidd-Gilchrist's talent.
He's a well-rounded scorer who can play off the ball, which would help the ball-needy Cousins and fellow Kings Tyreke Evans and Marcus Thornton. He's also extremely athletic and an exceptionally great defender, which will help the perimeter defense and put less pressure on Cousins to always slide in to guard the penetrating opponents.
He's not a great shooter, a weakness already present for Sacramento, but he's a picture-perfect fit in every other aspect. In the last two games, he's averaging 21.5 points and 7.5 rebounds for Kentucky while shooting 56 percent from the field.
Cousins and Kidd-Gilchrist, both Kentucky products, would be a great fit together. They share a fiery competitive spirit, and hopefully Kidd-Gilchrist could help teach Cousins some much-needed composure.
Thomas Robinson, Kansas
There isn't a thing to dislike about Thomas Robinson, except that he's not Anthony Davis.
Robinson is big, bulky, strong and athletic. For a big man of his size and strength to still be so agile is remarkable. He's an improving low-post scorer, a very solid rebounder and an excellent defender, and would give Sacramento—and Cousins—an athletic presence down low that it currently lacks.
Robinson's passion for the game and his dedication as a player is absolutely unquestioned. He hasn't had the most efficient time in the tournament. He's scoring 15.7 points and grabbing 12.5 rebounds, but shooting only 37.5 percent from the field. And he's not a great shot-blocker (averaging just 1.0 a game).
But his poise and motor would make him an immediate fit next to Cousins.
Anthony Davis, Kentucky
The best fit of all, of course, has to be the No. 1 overall selection. Anthony Davis has all but locked up the top draft spot. While any team would love to have him, a Cousins/Davis tag team would be an absolute dream.
Davis is an out-of-this-world athlete, incredibly bouncy and quick. He's a fantastic defender, averaging an incredible 4.6 blocks a game.
Cousins and Davis are completely opposite in terms of how they dominant physically—Cousins with size, Davis with length and explosiveness. Together, they'd form a twin towers that would instantly propel Sacramento into the playoffs.