Defending my selection of Jaden Ivey in the site-wide SB Nation NBA mock draft.
The Sacramento Kings landed a golden ticket when they jumped up in the lottery and landed the No. 4 pick in the 2022 NBA Draft, and they can’t afford to botch another lottery selection. So in SB Nation’s annual site-wide Blogger Mock Draft, I selected Jaden Ivey after the first three picks went chalk.
Ultimately, the Kings need star power more than anything, regardless of position. After a ton of back and forth thoughts on the pick over the last month-plus, I ultimately landed on Jaden Ivey as my selection at No. 4.
I find Ivey’s fit in Sacramento questionable, but ultimately, I don’t see enough reasons not to pick him. A Kings team that was 30-52 last season just can’t draft based on fit, and Ivey provides a mix of upside and certainty that no other prospects outside of the top three appear to offer.
About a month ago, I was pretty into the idea of drafting Shaedon Sharpe on the premise of Sacramento needing someone with star power, but ultimately, it’s hard to see the Kings taking that kind of risk here. Ivey has a lot of what still intrigues me about Sharpe, with a lot less risk associated.
Ivey has elite traits and movement skills that are reminiscent of elite lead guards like Donovan Mitchell and Ja Morant. At 6’4 with nearly his nearly 6’9 wingspan, Ivey has the length advantage over the aforementioned players. It’s always unlikely any player drafted reaches the heights of a Mitchell or a Morant, but it’s not that hard to envision Ivey getting close.
Ivey’s most significant flaws are probably defensive consistency and effort and a consistent mid-range jumper or floater. Defensively, Ivey would not improve Sacramento’s defense much, which is an area where they’re bottom of the league, year in and year out.
Ivey and his camp don’t seem to be too keen on ending up in Sacramento, and it’s hard to blame him, considering the organization’s struggles and backcourt glut. Ultimately, though, I would hope the Kings wouldn’t pass on Ivey for this reason. Plenty of players, including Stephen Curry, have not been thrilled to end up with who drafted them, only for it to end up working out.
There is a reason that at least five different teams have been named as reportedly being interested in trading up for Ivey at No. 4. If Sacramento gets completely blown away by an offer from one of these teams, I would understand trading down, but otherwise, I just don’t see why they would.
Part of my rationale here is that it seems much more likely the Kings would regret passing on Ivey as he potentially balls out next to Cade Cunningham with the Detroit Pistons — or some other scenario — than moving the pick working out.
Either way, it’s a really difficult decision, and I don’t envy General Manager Monte McNair and the choice he has to make on Thursday. And in just a few days, we will find out the outcome of one of the most pivotal decisions in franchise history.