Say what you want about the current state of the Sacramento Kings, but there is one thing the Kings have almost always done well—drafting.
From Peja Stojakovic to Kevin Martin to Tyreke Evans, Sacramento has a history of making somewhat surprising draft picks that exceed expectations.
Of course, hindsight is always 20/20 so it's easy to criticize bad selections. But given how often Sacramento's selections were criticized, it's amazing how many of them panned out.
Lets take a look back at the last 15 seasons of Sacramento Kings draft selections and see how they panned out.
When Sacramento selected Peja Stojaković with the 14th pick in the 1996 draft, fans and experts alike dismissed the selection as a waste.
Funny how often that happens for general manager Geoff Petrie.
Stojaković played the most games in a Kings jersey in Sacramento history, earning time in 518 contests. He is second in minutes played and in games started, and is second all-time in points scored with 9,498.
He averaged 18.3 points and 5.0 rebounds a contest, shooting 46 percent from the field and 39 percent from three-point land. His best season, the 2003-2004 season, saw him in the MVP conversation after he averaged 24.3 points and 6.8 rebounds a contest while shooting 48 percent from the field.
Players picked after Stojaković include Steve Nash, Jermaine O'Neil and Zydrunas Ilgauskas. Still, for a selection that no one saw coming, this worked out pretty well for Sacramento.
Jason Sasser was like most second round selections, and bounced around the NBA for a few seasons before playing overseas.
Draft Grade: A
Tariq Abdul-Wahad, who was on draft day known as Olivier Michael Saint-Jean, wasn't one of the Kings best selections. He played just two seasons in Sacramento before being shipped out. He averaged 9.3 points and 3.8 boards in his sophomore year, his last with the Kings.
In 1999, he was traded with the Kings 2003 pick (more on that later) to the Orlando Magic for an ageing Nick Anderson. Abdul-Wahad never became a consistent scorer after that, and ended his career in 2003 with averages of 7.8 points, 2.1 rebounds and 41 percent shooting.
Guard Anthony Johnson spent just one season in Sacramento before signing as a free agent with Atlanta. He spent 13 seasons in the league, playing with seven teams and seeing action in 793 contests with averages of 5.6 points and 2.8 assists.
It wasn't the Kings best draft, for sure, but there weren't a ton of talented players left after Abdul-Wahad. Guys selected after him included Derek Anderson (No. 13), Brevin Knight (No. 16), Bobby Jackson (No. 23) and Stephan Jackson (No. 43).
Jason Williams was one of the most entertaining players in the league in his early years, and along with Peja Stojakovic, Vlade Divac and Chris Webber he helped start the Golden Years of the Sacramento Kings.
In his three seasons in Sacramento, he averaged 11.3 points, 6.2 assists and 1.47 steals a contest but never shot over 40.7 percent from the field. Of course, his greatest contribution for Sacramento was as the trading piece that brought in Mike Bibby, who cemented the Kings dynasty.
Williams was certainly a better selection than half the players who went before him (Michael Olowokandi No. 1, Raef LaFrentz No. 3, Robert Traylor No. 6) but Sacramento missed on two Hall of Famers, Dirk Nowitzki (No. 9) and Paul Pierce (No. 10).
Jerome James only played one year in a Kings uniform, and his biggest contribution to Sacramento history was the domination he administered the Kings in the 2005 Playoff series when he was the starting center for the Seattle Supersonics.
Overall, the Jason Williams pick was a good one, especially since it later brought in Mike Bibby.
A second-round selection out of Kansas, Robertson played 25 minutes in a Kings uniform and never made an NBA team again. No picture of him even exists, so lets pretend he didn't exist.
The Kings own 1999 1st Rounder, No. 17 overall, was in the hands of the Atlanta Hawks, who took Cal Bowdler. Bowdler, selected over guys like James Posey, Jeff Foster and Andrei Kirilenko, played just three seasons in the NBA.
Another pick that no one saw coming, Hidayet Turkoglu spent three years in Sacramento as part of the Kings supremely deep bench. His sophomore year, he averaged 10.1 points a contest and 4.5 rebounds while shooting 42 percent from the field and 39 percent from three-point territory.
He was a key part of Sacramento's reserves in the Kings most successful years, and when Chris Webber was injured in the 2003 Playoffs Turkoglu started at power forward. He was traded in the 2003 offseason to San Antonio in a three-way deal that brought center Brad Miller for the Kings.
A true diamond in the rough, Turkoglu advanced his career and became on of the best players from a very weak 2000 class. The only players picked after him who are arguably as or more successful are Jamaal Magloire and Michael Redd.
Jabari Smith was also a part of the Kings bench during their best years but never saw more than seven minutes of playing time as a King. He retired after five years in the league.
Wallace spent his first three seasons in Sacramento, where he saw very little playing time. Fans chanted his name towards the end of games, hoping then-coach Rich Adelman would put the high-flying dunker in, but Wallace was still so raw in his first few seasons that he never earned his minutes.
His greatest accomplishment in a Kings uniform was in the 2002 Dunk Contest where he lost to Golden State's Jason Richardson in one of the best dunk contests in recent history.
The Kings may have been better off selecting Tony Parker (taken by San Antonio at No. 28) or Gilbert Arenas (taken at No. 30 by Golden State) but the Wallace selection was a very solid one.
Sacramento's major mistake with Wallace was letting him go. In the 2004 Expansion draft, Sacramento opted to hold onto forward Lawrence Funderburke rather than Wallace and the new Charlotte Bobcats eagerly jumped at the chance to select Wallace.
Wallace became the heart and sole of the Bobcats for many seasons. In 2009-2010 he averaged 18.2 points, 10.0 rebounds and 1.5 steals a contest while shooting 48.5 percent from the feild.
Maurice Jeffers never played in an NBA contest, but no one selected after him did either.
The Kings used their first-round selection (No. 28) to pick Gonzaga guard Dan Dickau, and promptly traded him to Atlanta for a 2003 first rounder that eventually went to Detroit.
Dickau bounced around the league for his six seasons, playing for seven teams. His best season, he averaged 13.2 points and 5.2 assists for the Hornets in 2004-2005.
Players of value after Dickau were limited, and only Carlos Boozer (No. 35), Matt Barnes (No. 46) and Luis Scola (No. 56) still play in the NBA today. Undrafted selections in 2002 included D. J. Mbenga, Udonis Haslem and Smush Parker.
Corsley Edwards, the last selection in the draft, played only ten games in his career, all with New Orleans.
Sacramento sat on the sidelines for arguably one of the deepest drafts in NBA History. Their pick, which was No. 27, was traded in 1999 for Nick Anderson from the Magic.
With guys like Perkins, Josh Howard and Mo Williams still on the draftboard at No. 27, it wasn't the best year not to have a pick.
Kevin Martin is perhaps Petrie's greatest "diamond in the rough" selection and was one of the few bright spots in the Kings most dismal seasons.
His sophomore year he averaged 10.8 points on 48 percent shooting and as a starter in his third season he averaged 20.2 points on 47 percent shooting and 38 percent from downtown. Born with a naturally funky shot, Martin became a master at shooting from anywhere on the court.
He picked up Reggie Miller's trick, faking a jump shot then jumping up into his defender, drawing the contact. in 2008-2009, when he averaged 24.6 points a contest, he went to the line over 10 times a contest.
Martin's eventual departure from Sacramento came in the form of Tyreke Evans. Evans was drafted in 2009 and shortly into the season Martin went down with an injury. Evans excelled and it quickly became obvious that the future for the Kings was in Evans, and upon his return it didn't seem that Martin could fit in with that.
Still, it wasn't all bad. Martin was traded to the Rockets for Carl Landry in 2009, who ended up being traded for Marcus Thornton, who ended up being Martin version 2.0 without the sulk. Thornton even wears No. 23 as Martin did. It all worked out in the end.
Ricky Minard was another flop in the second round, never playing in the NBA. Then again, no one selected after him did either.
Francisco Garcia never became a star but was a very consistent role player and still remains one of the current squad's few veteran leaders.
In six seasons in Sacramento, Garcia averages 9.1 points and 2.9 rebounds in just over 23 minutes a game. Garcia is still one of the team's best wing defenders, but over the years he has been slowed by injures—in 2009-2010 he played in just 28 contests after breaking his arm during a workout.
Notables selected after Garcia include Jason Maxiell (No. 26), David Lee (No. 30) and Monta Ellis (No. 40).
Quincy Douby was a lights out shooter in college, averaging 26 points his junior year at Rutgers. Unfortunately, that talent didn't progress into the NBA realm.
He spent just three years in the league, never shooting above 40 percent in a season and now plays overseas in China. A bust at No. 19 is never devastating, but considering the Kings passed up on talent like Rajon Rondo (No. 21), Shannon Brown (No. 25) and Paul Milsap (No. 47) one would think they'd do it over again if they could.
Spencer Hawes was supposed to be the second coming of Brad Miller or Vlade Divac. Indeed, he does have the skills to be a very solid finesse center—smooth jump shot, solid court vision, good passing skills—but he didn't become great at anything in his time in Sacramento and saw his exit last offseason.
The 7'0" center from Washington averaged 11.4 points and 7.1 rebounds a contest his sophomore year. But in 2010, after the Kings added DeMarcus Cousins to their roster, Hawes became completely replaceable.
He was traded to Philadelphia along with Andres Nocioni's ugly contract for Samuel Dalembert. He averaged 7.2 points and 5.2 boards for the 76ers in just over 21 minutes a contest.
Guys selected after him who may have been better selections include Thaddeus Young (No. 13), Wilson Chandler (No. 23), Aaron Brooks (No. 26) and Carl Landry (No. 31).
Geoff Petrie pulled off another surprise selection in 2008, taking Jason Thompson at No. 12 over more highly touted talent like Anthony Randolph (No. 14) and DeAndre Jordan (No. 35).
Thompson, one of the hardest workers you'll ever seen on a basketball court, remains a key figure in the Kings future. He averaged 11.7 points and 7.4 boards a contest his rookie year but was hampered by foul trouble and finished the season with the most fouls in the league.
Dispite only playing 23 minutes a contest last year—the lowest of his career—Thompson averaged 8.8 points and 6.5 boards on 50.7 percent shooting. With the return of Samuel Dalembert up in the air, Thompson will likely see more minutes in the coming season playing alongside center DeMarcus Cousins and fellow forward JJ Hickson.
Both Sean Singletary and Patrick Ewing Jr. failed to make the Kings squad.
Sacramento had the top projected pick in 2009 and saw their selection fall all the way to No. 4 in the lottery.
With Blake Griffin going with the top selection and Hasheem Thabeet and James Harden going No. 2 and No. 3 respectively, there was an increased presure from the Sacramento fanbase to select Spanish point guard Ricky Rubio.
The Kings instead took Tyreke Evans, who was brilliant in his first year and took home the Rookie of the Year award after averaging 20.1 points, 5.8 assists and 5.2 boards a contest.
In his second season, Tyreke was significantly slowed by injures and saw his stats plummet, but if he can remain healthy and learn to trust his teammates a bit more he could easily become a top 15 player in the league.
The only player you could argue may have been a better selection than Tyreke would be Stephan Curry, selected at No. 7 by Golden State, but I'd select Tyreke again nine times out of 10.
Small forward Omri Casspi, the first Israeli born NBA player, averaged 9.1 points and 4.3 rebounds on 44 percent shooting in two years with Sacramento. His greatest contribution for the Kings, however, was as the trading chip that brought over forward JJ Hickson from Cleveland this offseason.
Jon Brockman was selected by Portland and brought over to Sacramento in a draft day deal. He was a fan favorite for his rebounding skills and tough nosed play, but was traded in the 2010 offseason when the Kings big man core grew too packed.
If you look at the stat sheets alone, you would never guess why Sacramento fans are so excited about DeMarcus Cousins future.
He averaged 14.1 points and 8.4 boards a contest for Sacramento, but shot just 41 percent from the field and gained a reputation as a headcase and a problem in the locker room. Still, Cousins has the all around talent and determination to become one of the league's best centers.
He has very solid post moves and excellent size to post up and grab rebounds. While he took too many jumpers last season and saw his field goal percentage plummet because of it, he has excellent range for his position. He also has the best passing skills and court vision of any Kings big man since the departures of Vlade Divac and Chris Webber.
He needs to become a more consistent defender (.8 blocks per game) and work on his free throw shooting (68 percent), but with time (and hopefully maturity) Cousins should become an excellent center in this league.
Hopes were very high for second-round selection Hassan Whiteside, who wowed the Kings coaching staff with his athleticism and blocking abilities, but he saw just two minutes of playing time last season and was injured for much of it with a knee injury.
It is, of course, far too early to grade this year's crop of rookies but all three had promising college careers.
Fredette, of course, comes to Sacramento as the most polarizing star to hit the draft in many years. He averaged over 27 points a game for BYU last season and has incredible range, but fans are split on how they view his potential. Some think he's the best thing since sliced bread and expect him to be the perfect fit next to Tyreke Evans.
I expect Jimmer to be a very solid NBA player thanks to his scoring talents. I don't believe he will start for Sacramento, at least not his rookie season, not with Tyreke Evans and Marcus Thornton both better than he is. I think Jimmer will be an excellent role player for years to come, one that any competing team needs, but I doubt he ever becomes the star he is expected to become.
Honeycutt is very raw as a scorer but has great reach and athleticism. He's a very solid defender and proved that in his time at UCLA, but needs to gain weight and muscle (He weighs just 190 lbs for his 6'8" frame) and work on becoming a more consistent jump shooter.
Isaiah Thomas, the last selection in the draft stands just 5'8" tall but is a excellent scorer for his size. He averaged 16.8 points and 6.0 assist for Washington last season while shooting a solid 44 percent. If he can continue to work on his handles and prove that his small size isn't a big issue, he should make the team this season.
1996: No. 14 Peja Stojaković, No. 41 Jason Sasser—Grade: A-
1997: No. 11 Tariq Abdul-Wahad, No. 40 Anthony Johnson—Grade: C
1998: No. 7 Jason Williams, No. 36 Jerome James—Grade: A-
1999: No. 45 Gary Robinson—Grade: D
2000: No. 16 Hedo Turkoglu, No. 45 Jabari Smith—Grade: B+
2001: No. 25 Gerald Wallace, No. 52 Maurice Jeffers—Grade: B+
2002: No. 58 Corsley Edwards—Grade: D
2003: None—Grade: Incomplete
2004: No. 26 Kevin Martin, No. 49 Ricky Minard—Grade: A
2005: No. 23 Francisco Garcia—Grade: B
2006: No. 19 Quincy Douby—Grade: F
2007: No. 10 Spencer Hawes—Grade: B-
2008: No. 12 Jason Thompson, No. 42 Sean Singletary, No. 43 Patrick Ewing Jr.—Grade: B
2009: G Tyreke Evans, SF Omri Casspi, PF Jon Brockman—Grade: A
2010: No. 5 DeMarcus Cousins, No. 33 Hassan Whiteside—Grade: A
2011: No. 10 Jimmer Fredette, No. 35 Tyler Honeycutt, No. 60 Isaiah Thomas—Grade: Incomplete