Kings

2021 Draft to Help End Kings’ Decade-and-a-Half Playoff Drought?

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Kings General Manager Monte McNair has a big puzzle in front of him.

His challenge? To find the missing pieces so the Sacramento Kings can finally end their 15-year playoff drought.

DRAFT

The Kings have the No. 9 pick in Thursday night’s draft.  It’s a big piece of McNair’s puzzle.  How will he use it?

Can the Kings find another “steal” at nine like they did last year when Tyrese Haliburton fell to them at 12?  Or can McNair turn the pick into a better puzzle piece by packaging it with players in a trade.  Maybe then he can move up in the draft or acquire a veteran player.

If McNair decides to use the pick, who do the Kings go after?  A lot of names have been tossed around.

Florida State small forward Scottie Barnes is a Kings favorite, but he has shot up in mock drafts and probably will be gone before the Kings pick, unless they trade up.

Four players the Kings are targeting that could fall to them at No. 9 are Moses Moody, Franz Wagner, Corey Kispert and Jalen Johnson.

Moody is a 6’6″ shooting guard from Arkansas.  He is very athletic and one of the better shooters in the draft, but he can defend at a high level, too. That is music to the Kings’ ears, because defense was their big albatross last season. As a freshman, Moody was an All-SEC first-team selection and ranked second in the SEC in free throws made (81%) and free throws attempted.

Wagner, the younger brother of NBA player Moritz Wagner, is 6’9″ and can play both forward positions.  Still only 19 years old, he has the frame, shooting touch and defense to be a solid NBA talent.  Wagner played two years at Michigan and started all 55 games he played.  He shot 47.7% from the field and 34.3% from deep, led the Wolverines in steals per game in his second year (1.3) and was second on the team in blocks per game (1.0).

A four-year man from Gonzaga, Corey Kispert is one of the oldest and most experienced players in the draft at 22 years old, capping his collegiate tenure off as the West Coast Conference Player of the Year this past season.

Kispert might just be the best shooter available in the draft. He has a very quick release and is deadly accurate when given space.  He shot 52.9% from the field and 44% from beyond the arc in his senior season.

Jalen Johnson, a 6’9″ small forward from Duke, is somewhat of a mystery option.  He struggled in 13 games at Duke before quitting the team, but the former five-star prospect has talent.  Johnson’s length and athleticism allows him to defend multiple positions, play above the rim and initiate fast breaks with point-guard skills.

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Will the Kings take a gamble?

TRADES

Like many other teams, the Kings have reportedly “been aggressive” in trade talks, being linked to Ben Simmons, Pascal Siakam, Kyle Kuzma, Myles Turner and others.

No Kings player is untouchable, but De’Aaron Fox and Tyrese Haliburton are as close to being untouchable as there is.  Reports say when the Kings inquired about Simmons, the 76ers said they wanted Fox.  End of conversation.

The Kings’ biggest trade chips are more than likely Buddy Hield, Marvin Bagley III and the No. 9 pick.

FREE AGENCY

One of the biggest question marks for the Kings is whether they have the cap space to re-sign center Richaun Holmes.  He is a fan favorite and has been one of the Kings’ best players over the last two years.  Holmes has indicated he’d love to stay in Sacramento, but he also says he wants to sign for $20 million per.  That would put him out of the Kings’ budget, but Sactown’s ideal target figure is likely anywhere from $48-60 million over four years.

HOPES

Despite another losing season, the Kings played very well at times last year.  They were 10-1 against Denver, Dallas, Boston and Los Angeles (Lakers).  Those were all playoff teams, so that says there were some good things going on.  It just wasn’t consistent.

The Kings are not going to blow up the the current team by just dumping core players.  There is just too much hope there.  Instead, McNair needs to just find the right pieces to complete the puzzle and make the Kings not only a playoff team, but a championship contender.

Trades, draft picks, re-signing free agents.  Kings fans will get a sense over the next few days on what moves McNair and the Kings will make to end the decade-and-a-half playoff drought.

Follow us on Twitter @Kings_Lead for the latest Kings news and insight. 

About Dave Andrade

Sports Director, KRCR-TV Redding 1968-81; Shasta College football & basketball play-by-play; marketing rep; retired, but still doing a daily sports report & commentary for KKXS 96.1 FM, Redding; contributor at Kings Lead

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