6 Draft Prospects Guaranteed to Interest the Sacramento Kings
As a team whose talent is incongruous with its performance, the Kings are poised to make a run at the playoffs eventually, and seem to be on the verge of doing so.
Missing, perhaps, a single piece, Sacramento will look to find the player to put them over the edge in the upcoming draft, in which they will have the eighth overall pick.
As a whole, the team has a handful of strong talents. DeMarcus Cousins headlines the roster, though Rudy Gay and Isaiah Thomas were key contributors in 2014.
Still, the team needs another elite performer, and with the current draft class overflowing with talent, they should give ample consideration to numerous prospects who could fill the current holes and take this team to the next level.
From a pure talent perspective, Indiana's Noah Vonleh is an ideal target for any team looking to add a big man in the 2014 draft.
After losing Carl Landry at the season's start, the Sacramento Kings roster was left with a sizable hole that desperately needs filling alongside DeMarcus Cousins in the post.
Vonleh, a physical specimen, has long arms and a strong frame that allows him to be productive in the post. His skill set is remarkably versatile, and while he is most efficient in the post, Vonleh has shown flashes of a shooting ability that could stretch the floor for Sacramento's star center.
As a whole, his raw ability would allow him to be an ideal offensive fit beside Cousins, as well as a force on the boards. That said, his experience and poor distributing skills could exacerbate the current "intangible" issues that have hindered this young team in the past.
Still, his size and talent make him an obvious lottery pick, and his youth only solidifies the notion that Vonleh, despite already possessing a vast array of skills, could grow into a legitimate NBA 4.
Unlike Vonleh, Arizona's Aaron Gordon is not blessed with remarkable size or length. That said, his explosive athletic ability allows him to dominate at his position regularly.
Gordon's leaping ability and tremendous motor make him an ideal candidate for a high-paced offense that the Kings often utilize. He is fast and constantly energized, allowing him to be a juggernaut on fast breaks and an ideal supplement to Cousins, who also possesses an athletic flair and a penchant for dominating in the open court.
Additionally, Gordon is often praised for his high-IQ and passing ability, which should serve as a major interest boost for Sacramento who could use an intelligent player. With Gordon, intangibles are hardly an issue, and the collective distributing ability of a Cousins-Gordon duo could make for an elite post offense that can lead to perimeter success as well.
As a whole, Gordon's fundamental skills, ranging from his jump shot to aspects of his post game in the half-court offense, serve as the biggest red flags, although his IQ, energy, assisting flair and ability to leave an impact on the offensive glass make him a great fit for the Kings' roster.
If Sacramento is looking for a complement to Cousins that doesn't fit the common power forward role, Creighton's Doug McDermott deserves a second glance.
McDermott, a natural-born leader and the son of a college coach, has the intangibles down pat. As a graduating senior, the experience is there to ensure that he won't have any character flaws or attitude issues.
His unique skill set, though, is what has truly made him a top prospect. A remarkable shooter, McDermott can stretch the floor as he serves as a perennial threat whenever his sneakers hit the hardwood. Whether it be from mid-range or deep, he can be entrusted to score frequently and efficiently, even when he is contested.
While he lacks elite size and strength, McDermott can rebound, allowing him to effectively play the 4 in the pros. On the Kings, he would form a formidable duo with Cousins, each complementing the others' weakness.
His defense is also looked at as a downside, although Sacramento coach Mike Malone, who is noted as a defensive coach, could help to expedite McDermott's growth on that end. He's a renowned hustler and his high motor and penchant to learn guarantee that he isn't a lost cause on defense.
From a pure talent perspective, McDermott is among the top offensive weapons in his class. His unique abilities make him a strong fit for the Kings, while his top-notch feel for the game guarantees that his athletic limitations won't prevent him from making an impact.
After electing to skip last year's draft, Dario Saric utilized an extra year of international experience to solidify his stock as a top big man in this class.
Though he is normally projected to fall further than the Kings' eighth pick, Saric is an established talent with a repertoire that would mesh nicely in the Sacramento system.
Like McDermott, Saric possesses a shooting flair that is unnatural for a player at his position. He can spread the floor, but can also dominate from inside and on the attack.
Aside from his scoring talent, he is also a strong rebounder and possesses an understanding of the game that should allow him to rapidly assimilate to the NBA. He can dribble and pass the ball better than most near-seven footers, and would help those around him succeed on the offensive front.
Defensively he is a question mark, as his lack of athleticism and speed could hurt his stock. From an offensive perspective, though, Saric is a well-rounded player, and his current experience overseas should be a plus for Sacramento, who will likely look to bring in a high-IQ prospect.
Even though Isaiah Thomas makes it continuously difficult for detractors to criticize him as a starting-caliber point guard, his time as a sixth man last year opens the door for Sacramento to add a guard in June.
Zach LaVine, who emerged from nowhere in UCLA, is definitely worthy of consideration from the Kings if they should look to move Thomas back into the second unit as a scoring spark and bench leader.
LaVine is an explosive athlete with a strong scoring ability. He can shoot from deep, attack with unparalleled tenacity and serve as a valuable asset for the Kings' high-powered offense.
Additionally, his physical gifts allow him to be a strong two-way player, giving him remarkably high potential to succeed.
His readiness, though, is often questioned. From an intelligence standpoint, he also has plenty of learning to do. Fortunately, he came off the bench in college and could serve a similar role in Sacramento if he struggles out of the gate.
Overall, though, he's a talented combo guard who could supplement the production of Isaiah Thomas and Ben McLemore in the backcourt. He has the ability to play alongside either, and this versatility should catch the eyes of the Sacramento front office if they are looking to deepen the guard pool.
While LaVine's potential as a combo stud should stand out, Marcus Smart is the ideal choice for any team looking to add a backcourt tweener.
For Sacramento, the biggest issue is the slim possibility that he slips to pick No. 8.
If he should fall, though, the Kings would be wise to offer him a roster spot. Smart is, among other things, a natural basketball player. Watching him play, nothing feels forced. He can score with ease, and while his three-point shot needs work before it can be relied upon as a consistent weapon, his mid-range shot and his strong scoring ability in the paint make him an offensive threat in both transition and the half-court set.
His passing ability makes him even more attractive, as his lack of unselfish play would be vital to the continued growth of Cousins and the rest of the roster.
He's a playmaker in every possible way, and while character issues have been a source of concern, it should hardly hold the Kings back if this unique talent should fall into their laps.
He can play both guard positions and can adapt well to any role that he is asked to perform. With a high ceiling, Smart is one of the class' top players, and potentially the best guard that it has to offer.