SACRAMENTO -- Fourteen days before the 2017 NBA Draft and prospects continue to roll through Sacramento. Justin Jackson was the first player slated to go in the top 20 to drop by the Kings’ practice facility a little over a week ago, but the parade hasn’t stopped there.
Published reports had agents steering their top tier clients away from Sacramento, but Kentucky’s De’Aaron Fox, snuck into the practice facility over the weekend for a workout and meet and greet. Fox is expected to fall no lower than the Kings at five and he’s been mentioned as high as two in one of the best drafts in the last decade.
Duke’s Harry Giles, another top 20 talent, swung by Sacramento on Tuesday and Wednesday’s prospect workout featured combo guard Donovan Mitchell (currently ranked 12th on the Draft Express big board), as well as Purdue’s big man Caleb Swanigan, who by all accounts put on a show against Grant High School alum Cameron Oliver.
The Kings have yet to announce the athletes that plan to drop in over the weekend, but workouts are expected on both Saturday and Sunday. There is still plenty of time to interview elite prospects and the Kings’ front office has been seen circling the globe watching potential picks at their pre draft home bases.
Mitchell, 20, is an intriguing prospect. Considered one of the best two-way players in the draft, the 6-foot-3 guard boasts a 6-foot-10 wingspan and an incredible 40.5 inch vertical. He has plenty to prove if he hopes to convince teams that he can play the point guard at the NBA level, but he should be able to earn minutes early in his rookie season at both guard positions.
The sophomore out of Louisville was confident in his time with the media. He compared his game to the Boston Celtics’ Avery Bradley, especially in his ability to defend elite guards in the NBA.
“My willingness to lead and my willingness to play defense, because a lot of guys don’t really like to do that,” Mitchell said when asked about what impression he hoped stood out in his workout with the Kings. “A lot of guys will score 50, but they won’t hold their opponent to 10 points. I take pride in that as opposed to scoring 50.”
Mitchell admits to being terrified of flying, but he was very excited about the draft process and even the prospect of landing in Sacramento. Mitchell also raved about Swanigan after getting to see the big man up close and personal.
“Caleb was...I don’t even know how to put it in words, I don’t think you guys saw it, but left hand, right hook, left hook,” Mitchell said of Swanigan. “He was dominant the whole workout. I’m really impressed with him. He had that at Purdue this year, but you could tell he definitely worked on it.”
Sacramento has plenty of needs, specifically at the point guard and small forward position. They also have secondary needs, like a defensive banger and rebounder off the bench. Swanigan might fit the role the Kings are looking for if he last until the second round where the Kings hold the 34th pick.
Swanigan’s road to the NBA is an incredible story. He weighed over 360 pounds entering the eighth grade and spent time as a youth bouncing around homeless shelters and different schools. The 6-foot-9, 247-pound power player has worked hard to earn his place in the NBA and it’s not hard to see a situation where a team in the mid-20’s pulls the trigger on the versatile post player that averaged 18.5 points, 12.5 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game for the Boilermakers in his sophomore season.
“The biggest thing with the NBA is play your game, play what you do, play to your strengths,” Swanigan said. “You don’t want to do or show something that you’re not quite there with.”
For a player that has struggled with weight issues in the past, Swanigan came into Sacramento in great shape. He’s known for his post play, but he also shot 44.7 percent from behind the 3-point line this season and has plenty of room to grow at the next level.
While media wasn’t allowed in to see the action, there was a buzz around the team about Oliver’s monster dunk over Swanigan in the workout. The big out of the University of Nevada Reno has an NBA body. Listed at 6-foot-8, 239 pounds, Oliver posted a 39.5 inch vertical at the combine and he would love nothing more than to play with his hometown team.
“It’s a home for me, so it would be a dream come true,” Oliver said of the possibility of the possibility of being drafted Sacramento.
At this point, Oliver is listed as an early-to-mid second round prospect on most mock drafts, but he has a lot of talent and upside.
Be it local talent or players coming from across the country, the Kings have a steady flow of traffic coming through the building. As the draft nears and more is known about the landscape of the top 10, expect Sacramento to host plenty more players.