We are just over a week away from the draft!
It’s a big offseason for the Sacramento Kings. General manager Monte McNair is going into his second season at the helm, and the pressure will increase to end the Kings’ 15-year playoff drought.
Sacramento has been mentioned as a suitor for some of the big names reportedly available on the trade market. NBA insiders believe McNair will kick the tires on Damian Lillard and Ben Simmons.
The Kings have two foundational pieces in place with De’Aaron Fox and Tyrese Haliburton. McNair will hopefully get some similar luck to last year’s draft when Haliburton fell to No. 12. Sacramento holds the No. 9 pick and is looking to add another young piece to add to the team’s core.
The Kings need to improve on the defensive end, and some prospects that should be available at nine fit the bill.
Here is who some NBA insiders have Sacramento taking in their latest mock drafts.
The Athletic has the Kings taking Texas center Kai Jones:
Previous analysis: This is probably too high for Jones, and he’s more likely to be somewhere near the end of the lottery, but I think he’s exactly what the Sacramento Kings need. He’s top 10 on my big board, and he fills a position the Kings have struggled to fill consistently, all the way back to selecting Willie Cauley-Stein in 2015. Jones can anchor a good defensive unit for extended stretches. He’s basically Bam Adebayo in terms of his versatility and effectiveness on that end.
Offensively, he’s a guy who should be able to stretch the floor some and wreck the rim when he’s around it. He was surprisingly bad as a pick-and-roll big man this past season, turning the ball over a lot. Jones doesn’t have the best hands, so that’s where a lot of the fumbles happen for him. When he has the ball, he has the ability to drive right to the basket, but there isn’t an array of moves from him. It will be a lot of attacking a closeout defender. With Richaun Holmes hitting free agency, the Kings need a new big man.
Do you expect a trade here? Monte McNair will likely be pretty active in the trade market, but not too many teams are going to be dying to grab Buddy Hield on draft night. They aren’t moving De’Aaron Fox or Tyrese Haliburton. I think they’ll lock into picking at 9. – Zach Harper
NBC Sports has the Kings taking Arkansas forward Moses Moody:
Moody is a solid all around 3-and-D wing with good size and length. He measured in at 6-foot-6 with a 7-foot-1 wingspan. He has a good motor, solid basketball IQ and he might have more skills in his bag than what he’s showed at Arkansas.
The 19-year-old will need some time to acclimate to the NBA, but Moody has a nice frame and the ability to play a couple of different positions. The Kings need defensive-minded players that can fit into a system and Moody is just that, with potential for much more.
Sacramento will likely shop this pick all the way until they are on the clock, but if they stick at No. 9 and Moody drops this far, there is a good chance he is the guy. General manager Monte McNair chased this style of player in free agency and again at the deadline, and Moody was one of a stack of prospects to come through the Kings’ practice facility last week. – James Ham
Bleacher Report has the Kings taking Jones:
Scouts can see Kai Jones cracking the top 10. The Sacramento Kings, who need defense, are set in the backcourt and haven’t been able to count on Marvin Bagley III’s health, are a possible fit.
Jones’ ability to comfortably switch and guard wings at 6’11” has led to defensive comparisons to Jonathan Isaac. Offensively, even without substantial skill development, the Kings can still bank on his athleticism and motor for easy baskets.
But Jones’ flashes of shooting and slashing suggest there is more scoring potential for the Kings to eventually unlock. – Jonathan Wasserman
CBS Sports has the Kings taking Michigan forward Franz Wagner
The Kings were dead last in defensive efficiency last season, and Franz Wagner is one of the best defensive prospects in the draft with his length and instincts. Sacramento wants to play fast with De’Aaron Fox at the helm, and Wagner can help them in transition as a finisher, or as a spot-up 3-point shooter if he gains more consistency. He also has some burgeoning playmaking ability in the pick-and-roll that could eventually be developed. – Colin Ward-Henninger
The Ringer has the Kings taking LSU guard Cameron Thomas:
Throwback isolation scorer who thrives from midrange. He has every move in his bag to create off the bounce. And he has the confidence to launch from anywhere, including way beyond the 3-point line.
Skilled off-ball cutter who can relocate or come off screens from all angles and drain shots thanks to pristine footwork.
Good interior finisher who draws a ton of fouls using pump fakes and his body. When he sees open space, he attacks, especially in transition.
He has the physical tools to be an impactful defender if his fundamentals improve.
A bit of a ball-stopper who lacks passing vision. He may need to change his game to thrive in a motion offense, though his ideal role early in his career could just be as a bench spark plug.
Needs to lock in defensively. He doesn’t stay in a stance, falls out of position, and rarely puts in extra effort. – Kevin O’Connor
DraftKings has the Kings taking Florida State forward Scottie Barnes:
Barnes has reportedly had a good combine. He eventually goes to Sacramento, where he’ll be a good fit in the frontcourt alongside Marvin Bagley. The Kings need to make the playoffs next year to avoid blowing things up and Barnes can help with that on both ends of the floor.