Here we are, inching closer and closer to NBA playoff season, and the league’s royal Sacramento Kings are preparing for- in their unfortunately usual trend of missing the cut -a nice lengthy vacation. The Kings, though many like myself can argue they have improved, boast the second worst record in the Western Conference. So while watching other teams in the league play in the postseason or enjoying their vacation, one thought should be on their mind: Improvement.
Oklahoma City Thunder. Minnesota Timberwolves. Philadelphia 76ers. Indiana Pacers. Memphis Grizzlies. Chicago Bulls. What do these teams have in common? They are young teams building towards the future that have established their core mainly through the Draft. Other teams like the New York Knicks, infamous Miami Heat, and some may even argue the Boston Celtics, have solidified their rosters through trades and free agency. There is nothing wrong or illegal about doing that because we must remember that the NBA is a business in addition to it being a sport. However, in this new era, where franchise players are being dealt around the market like stock shares, teams must establish their cores through the Draft. Some may not like it because it takes time, often several seasons -several losing seasons. Teams submit themselves to slump-years only to reemerge more dominant than ever before because the players that were there from the beginning of the rebuilding phase grow together and form a nucleus.
The Kings are in the midst of that rebuilding phase. I’ve written before about the improvements to the core of the team (see here: http://tinyurl.com/BetterKings), but they are clearly not there yet. A solid draft or two more, if the Kings are lucky, should be able to help them find some anchors to hold the team down for a few years.
I was not that impressed with this draft class at first, but the more time that goes by, the more I am anxious to see how the draft plays out. This draft class is more impressive than last year’s. You can check the Big Board 2012 on nba.com: (http://www.nba.com/2012/news/features/scott_howard_cooper/04/04/mock-draft-2/index.html ).
The Kings are solid on the wing and the post is building nicely. They could use some more depth in their starting 5, which can be addressed in the draft. I plead the case for another big man. DeMarcus Cousins will be a star in this league if his current production is pushed to the max. He has shown a lot of improvement and potential since the Kings made a coaching change during the season. However, he could use some more help banging in the post. From the way this season has gone for the Kings, it would be a reasonable bet to assume they’d have a Top 3 Pick, Top 5 at the worst (Of course, the Draft Lottery determines all of this). The top 5 reasonable choices for the Kings should be:
1) Anthony Davis – Wishful thinking aside, there has been a trend of teams not sporting the league-worst record getting the #1 overall draft pick, such as the Wizards in 2010 and the Cavaliers in 2011. There exists the possibility that the Kings get the first pick. Should they get the top pick, Anthony Davis is the unanimous choice. He makes sense for the team because of his versatility. He will add defensive assistance to Cousins in the post, which is needed desperately. He can also generate efficient offense given his past as a point guard.
2/3) Andre Drummond/Jared Sullinger – I listed both players here interchangeably because either one can play an equal role in Sacramento. Sullinger shows more offensive upside, while Drummond provides more defensive potential and two more inches in height.
4) Kendall Marshall – Isaiah Thomas has played tremendously for the Kings since starting. The energy and effort he brings to the team are contagious and a player like that is essential to every team. However, he is no Jason Kidd. When I watched Kendall Marshall play for UNC (and before then, his high school played against mine), his game reminded me of Jason Kidd, minus the jumpshot. I believe Marshall’s jumpshot can and will be improved with time, assuming he’s in a position where he’ll need to shoot. He can orchestrate an offense in a manner such as Steven Spielberg directing a play. His defense can be a liability but he can improve that in time too. Picking him in the lottery may be a reach to some, but that’s a reach I believe the Kings should be willing to take. As I have stated, Thomas has played well, especially given his small frame. I think he can serve as the Kings starting point guard temporarily, or maybe even long term if he improves, but if given the opportunity to draft Kendall Marshall, the Kings should act upon it.
5) John Henson – Shot Blocking Ability. Enough said. Henson is a tall, lanky post defending presence that sends shots left and right effortlessly. His lack of bulk will be an immediate imposition to him, but if he continues to increase his size and strength as he has during his tenure at UNC (+25 lbs. from his freshman season, 195 lbs.), he’ll be a force to be reckoned with. Also, from watching a large number of UNC games this season, I noted that Henson has a much improved offensive game. He can stretch the post with his mid range jumpshot and his post shot selection has improved. He has gone from being an afterthought of mine to one of the most improved players in the country. He would certainly add some credibility to the Kings’ post play.
It is truly wishful thinking to assume that Anthony Davis will be wearing a Sacramento cap on Draft Day, but with the Top 5 pick that the Kings are almost sure to get, a solid talent should be calling himself a King next season. I can’t wait!
The NBA Draft is on Thursday, June 28, 2012. -from NBA.com
Respond and tell me what you think of my selections. Comment and tell me another team you’d like me to cover and I’ll pick some top picks for them. Respond in the comment section or send me a tweet @JohnYJArmstrong with #TopDraft. I’ll credit you in my post. Thanks for reading!