Kings

Kings Brand New to Being Late Drafters

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The last time the Sacramento Kings were slotted to pick this late in the NBA Draft, Twitter hadn’t quite launched yet.

But now, Sacramento is coming off its most successful season since Chris Webber was donning purple and black. The Kings own three different selections in the upcoming draft— Nos. 24, 38 and 54.

What might Sacramento be looking for in next week’s draft?

Strong at the guard and center positions, Sacramento lacks quality depth on the wing. Keegan Murray and Kessler Edwards are the only wings/forwards on the Kings’ roster heading into the summer. General manager Monte McNair should look to add another young wing to the mix.

So who are some prospects that may catch the Kings’ eye?

The Upperclassmen

Julian Strawther

A 6’7 wing from the University of Gonzaga, Julian Strawther’s shot could further bolster Sacramento’s already-prolific offense. He’ll never be mistaken for a defensive stopper, but he does have the size and savviness to be a positive on that end of the floor.

Sacramento needs to keep shooters around De’Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis, and Strawther is one of the best shooters in the draft. Finishing 20th in rebounds per game last season, the Kings would greatly benefit from Strawther’s rebounding ability as well.

Strawther averaged 15.2 points and 6.2 rebounds with shooting splits of 47/41/78. “Older” players tend to get overlooked in the NBA Draft, but Strawther just turned 21 in mid-April. He is far from a finished product.

Strawther’s not a one-trick pony either. He’s got a strong handle and a lethal floater; he has all the makings of a secondary creator that can make the simple but correct read from time to time.

McNair has consistently drafted players who can contribute right away. Strawther not only checks that box, but he plays a position of need.

With the makings of a potential starter in this league, he would be a great get for Sacramento.

Maxwell Lewis

Another 6’7 wing from the WCC, Maxwell Lewis is an exciting two-way prospect. Lewis possesses freakish length with a seven-foot wingspan and boy could the Kings use some of that.

He made significant improvements in his sophomore season, leading one to believe he’ll continue to expand his game as he grows at the next level.

Lewis likes the ball in his hands and he’s a crafty shot-creator. He has the foundation of a legitimate ISO scorer and secondary creator. Sacramento leans heavily on Fox and Sabonis as creators, but Lewis is also comfortable working off the ball. He’s an active cutter and a good finisher at the rim.

The big knock on Lewis heading into the draft is that he was the best player on a bad mid-major team, which isn’t fair to Lewis, but it is a reasonable concern.

His development from his freshman to sophomore season is a testament to his work ethic and when you blend that with his size and ball skills, you’ve got a player with a bright future.

Don’t overthink it. Lewis is worthy of a first-round selection.

Colby Jones

Colby Jones is a 6’5 wing from the University of Xavier who averaged 15.0 points, 5.7 rebounds and 4.4 assists as he led the Wildcats to their first NCAA tournament appearance since 2018.

Jones has a do-it-all skillset but he’s going to need to continue to improve as a shooter to stick at the next level. He shot 37.8% on 3.3 3PA per game during his junior campaign but he shot a mere 30.3% during his first two seasons, which still leaves it a bit of a question mark.

Jones was an effective distributor for Xavier last season and he’ll thrive with a more open floor. Players with his size and two-way playmaking ability should not be overlooked in today’s NBA.

Jones has all characteristics you want in a complimentary player. If he becomes a consistent threat as a shooter he could be a home run for a team selecting late in the first-round or early in the second.

The Freshmen

Dariq Whitehead

Dariq Whitehead was the No. 2 high-school prospect in ESPN’s 2022 Top 100, but a foot fracture in late August put a damper on Whitehead’s lone season at Duke.

The injury didn’t keep him from playing at Duke, but Whitehead never quite looked like the player everyone was so high on in high school. The 18-year-old averaged just 8.2 points and 2.4 rebounds in 28 games for the Blue Devils. Whitehead did shoot the ball well at just a hair under 43% from deep, displaying the ability and willingness to fit into a 3-and-D role.

His foot still leads to question marks. He just had a second surgery on it but if he can get healthy and regain his explosiveness, he will be one of the steals of the draft.

Whitehead may be a risk, but there’s too much upside here not to be considered.

Jordan Walsh

Former five-star recruit Jordan Walsh had a relatively disappointing season for the University of Arkansas. He averaged 7.1 points and 3.9 rebounds per game for the Razorbacks.

Don’t let this fool you, though. He gets after it. He’s raw offensively but he has the tools of a productive role player in this league.

Walsh is a hard-nosed defender with a 7’1 wingspan. Sacramento needs length and toughness on the perimeter, and Walsh would bring that from day one.

It’ll take some time to fully adjust to the NBA level, but Walsh would instantly be one of Sacramento’s more talented defenders.

Walsh is already comfortable playing in the dunker spot and his athleticism thrives in transition. To stick around in the NBA he’ll have to prove he can knock down outside shots. Walsh just recently turned 19 in March; be patient with him and it could pay dividends in the long run.

The 2023 NBA Draft kicks off Thursday, June 22 at 8pm ET on ABC and ESPN.

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