Analyzing Sacramento Kings' Biggest Draft Needs

Sim Risso@@SimRissoFeatured ColumnistMay 29, 2014

General manager Pete D'Alessandro has a few different needs he could address with the No. 8 pick.
General manager Pete D'Alessandro has a few different needs he could address with the No. 8 pick.Rich Pedroncelli/Associated Press

After landing the eighth pick in the NBA draft, the Sacramento Kings know where they'll be selecting. Now the team needs to analyze its weaknesses and some realistic options that could help fix them.

When you finish 28-54, as the Kings did last season, it means there are holes that need to be plugged. On one hand, that's a good thing, as virtually anybody the Kings select could have an impact as a rookie. The downside, of course, is that any one player won't be enough to fill all the voids. 

Therefore, rather than simply listing players who should be available when the Kings are on the clock, or highlighting positions of need, we'll look at players who bolster significant weaknesses. 

Perimeter Defense

As a team, the Kings could use better defenders. However, that's especially true of the backcourt, where the team could use more defensive presence.

According to, Sacramento's guards had a defensive rating of 106.2 points allowed per 100 possessions.

The team was also 20th in opponent field-goal percentage for guards, allowing the opposing backcourt to hit 46.1 percent of its field-goal attempts. Perhaps nowhere was that more evident than from downtown, as opposing guards shot 38.3 percent from three-point range against the Kings, which was worst in the NBA. 

All of that points to the Kings needing a player capable of defending the perimeter. Part of that improvement could come with the development of Ben McLemore. But with Isaiah Thomas being a restricted free agent, and not a very good defender even if he does return, ideally adding a point guard who's a quality defender would be a boost.

Of the players who could be on the board when the Kings are selecting, nobody fits the bill better than Marcus Smart. According to ESPN's Chad Ford (subscription required), one of Smart's best traits is his defensive ability.  

Marcus Smart is extremely active on the defensive end.
Marcus Smart is extremely active on the defensive end.Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press

This is also backed up by the statistics, as Smart averaged 3.0 steals as a freshman and 2.9 as a sophomore.

Rim Protection

Adding an inside presence who can protect the rim and affect shots would be ideal for the Kings. 

DeMarcus Cousins is the closest thing Sacramento has to a shot-blocker, but while DMC is improving as a defender, blocking shots still isn't his forte. In fact, his 1.3 blocks per game were the most of his career.

But it's not just blocking shots where the Kings could use help. They also need to get better at simply affecting them.

Opponents shot 62.6 percent within five feet of the rim against the Kings. That ranked 29th of the league's 30 teams. Only the Timberwolves were worse.

There are a couple players projected to go in the Kings' range who could help in this regard. The best-case scenario would be Noah Vonleh of Indiana. Vonleh's 7'4.25" wingspan is the second biggest of anyone entering this year's draft. The big man also posted a 37" vertical leap, so not only is he long, but he can also elevate.

Noah Vonleh's the type of shot-blocker the Kings are lacking.
Noah Vonleh's the type of shot-blocker the Kings are lacking.Kiichiro Sato/Associated Press

Vonleh translated those skills to results last season, averaging 1.4 blocks per game in 26.5 minutes per game. 

However, there's a good chance Vonleh is gone when the Kings are on the clock. That makes Aaron Gordon the next-best thing.

At 6'8.75" (with shoes) and possessing a 6'11.75" wingspan, Gordon has the size to be an effective post defender. He also posted a 39" vertical jump, which was the best among all frontcourt players at the combine.

What's more, Gordon actually likes defending.

If Vonleh isn't there, Gordon could be a good option to provide a defensive presence in the post. 

Three-Point Shooting

This need is more skill-specific than position-specific when compared to the previous two. You either need to be a guard or an incredibly athletic 3 to be a good perimeter defender. To be a good rim protector, you probably have to be a power forward or center.

But good three-point shooters come from all shapes, sizes and positions. 

As a team, the Kings only made 33.3 percent of their three-point shots last season. That was 27th in the NBA. Adding a player capable of stretching the court with his outside shot is a definite must entering the draft.

Doug McDermott's sweet stroke would be a welcome addition to the Kings.
Doug McDermott's sweet stroke would be a welcome addition to the Kings.Eric Francis/Getty Images

Doug McDermott would fit well in this regard. The forward hit 44.9 percent of his three-pointers as a senior, which was actually worse than the percentage he posted in his previous two years. He's also projected to go somewhere between picks 10-15, so grabbing him at No. 8 wouldn't be a huge reach if the Kings are sold on him.

Point guard Zach LaVine would also be a player who can stretch the court. The one thing he showed in his limited playing time last season was serious range on his jump shot, as he hit 37.5 percent of his three-point attempts. Like McDermott, LaVine is likely to go in the 10-15 range, so he could be a realistic fit for the Kings.


It probably can go without being said, but for the sake of being thorough it's worth pointing out anyway: The Kings' biggest need is a good player, regardless of skill or position.

Granted, it'd be nice to get a really good player who also fits a need, but that shouldn't be a requirement. When you win 28 games, as the Kings did, there are too many issues to be concerned with addressing any specific one—especially if there's a better player still on the board who doesn't fill one of those needs.

In other words, the Kings shouldn't draft a shooter, perimeter defender or rim protector just to do it. They should only do it if the best player remaining on their board when they pick also happens to fill one of those needs.

They need to worry about adding good basketball players now. They can worry about how they fit together later. 

Unless noted otherwise, all stats and combine measurements courtesy of

If you want to talk Kings basketball, you can find me on Twitter @SimRisso.


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