The Sacramento Kings' draft history has certainly had its share of ups and downs. It is a history filled with hits, misses, and tragedy. From a botched number one choice, to two major tragedies, to planting the seeds of a contender, to an era of rebuilding, the Kings have gone through it all. Here are some of the ups and downs of their rocky ride.
The Kings chose Ricky Berry with the 18th overall selection in '88. Berry had a very strong rookie year and was considered and up- and comer in the league. The kind of player the Kings could build upon.
After his rookie season, tragedy struck Berry and the Kings when he committed suicide. It would take the team a long time to get over this.
In 1993 the Kings drafted Bobby Hurley from Duke, considered one of the great point guards in NCAA history.
Hurley was having a strong rookie campaign when in mid- season tragedy would strike him.
Hurley sustained life- threatening injuries including a broken back, broken shoulder and ribs, a torn trachea and torn knee ligaments when he drove his car off the freeway leaving a Kings home game. Any of these injuries could have ended his career, much less all of them.
Hurley would never be the same.
In 1989 the Kings had the first overall draft choice for the first (and only) time in their history. Among the top candidates in this draft (that they passed on) were Sean Elliot and Glen Rice, who both went on to very productive careers.
The Kings went with Louisville big man (never nervous) Pervis Ellison.
Ellison would go on to be a journeyman in the league, finding moderate success as he bounced around the league. Needless to say, he was not worthy of the number one pick.
In 1990 the Kings had an unprecedented four first round choices. The buzz and hope was that this draft would revitalize the team. Ehhh... not so much.
The Kings chose Lionel Simmons (7), Travis Mays (14), Duane Causwell (18), and Anthony Bonner (23).
Simmons went on to have a decent, if unspectacular career. Mays would end up as a minister in the Sacramento area within five years. Causwell turned out to be what they call in the NBA a “stiff.” Bonner made himself a decent niche as a rebounder and dirty work player with moderate success in the league.
Needless to say, this was not the outcome the Kings were looking for.
1991: The tide turns.
The Kings selected Billy Owens (three). Owens had said repeatedly before the draft that he would not play for the Kings.
A draft- day trade would send Owens to the Warriors for Mitch Richmond.
Richmond would emerge as one of the elite players in the game for many years. He had a career that would eventually see his jersey in the rafters of Arco Arena.
Score this as major success.
In 1996 the Kings drafted a previously unheard of foreign shooter named Predrag (Peja) Stojakovic. They would have to wait three years while he played in Europe before he arrived in Sacramento. It would prove to be well worth the wait.
1998 saw the drafting of a troubled young point guard named Jason Williams from Florida. Williams took the league by storm with his array of exciting passes and exciting plays. Williams became a catalyst as the team began to see a bright future ahead of them.
Williams was traded for Mike Bibby two years later, a move that would help put the team over the top.
2000 saw the Kings draft the first Turkish-born NBA player when they took Hidayet (Hedo) Turkoglu. Turkoglu saw moderate success in his rookie year. He would soon become a very solid rotation player, before having his greatest success with the Orlando Magic.
These three picks, along with the free- agent acquisition of Vlade Divac and the trade for Chris Webber would lead the team to be called, “the greatest show on court,” eventually culminating in a classic 2002 conference finals battle with the L.A Lakers.
In 2004 the Kings stole (24th pick) Kevin Martin. Martin was a role player on the Kings last two playoff teams and now stands as the centerpiece of a rebuilding franchise.
2005 saw Geoff Petrie find another late first round (23) gem in Fransisco Garcia.
Garcia has had three productive seasons and figures to be a rotation player on the rebuilding Kings.
2006 saw the Kings one big bust of this era. Picking 19th overall, the Kings chose guard Quincy Douby. The move was questioned heavily at the time and for good reason. Douby found himself out of the league when he was cut by the team in the middle of the 2008 season, never to be seen again.
2007- '08: The Kings find their front court of the future by drafting Center Spencer Hawes and forward Jason Thompson. These two big men have helped give the Kings hope moving forward as the rebuilding process continues.
2009 might prove to be the Sacramento's most important draft to date. Tyreke Evans has already shown superstar potential in his rookie campaign, adding one more piece to an already solid young core.
The sky's the limit.