The No. 9 overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft is an interesting spot to be in. The top six is basically set with expected star-level players Cade Cunningham, Jalen Green, Evan Mobley, Jalen Suggs, Jonathan Kuminga and Scottie Barnes all near locks, even if their exact order is unknown at this time.
The next three picks belong to the Golden State Warriors, Orlando Magic and the Kings. It’s an open race for all three positions and prospects are rushing to all three cities to make one more impression.
This is good news for the Kings. In recent years, they’ve struggled to lure some of the players projected in their draft range for visits to Sacramento.
While the Kings have put information on lockdown, that hasn’t stopped news from leaking out through other avenues, be it agents or prospects posting pictures from their visits on social media.
General manager Monte McNair and his staff have seen almost every player slated to go from No. 9 all the way into the early 20s. The list is long and includes Keon Johnson, Moses Moody, Kai Jones, Corey Kispert, Jalen Johnson, Ziaire Williams, Alperen Sengun and Jared Butler.
A league source confirmed to NBC Sports California that Jaden Springer and Isaiah Todd dropped by on Sunday for a visit, expanding the list of known top-end prospect workouts to 10, with 10 days left before draft night.
There are a few names missing from this list, but some of these players have a solid reason for their absence and there is still time for a few of the others to swing by for a visit.
Josh Giddey has been playing with the Australian National team while they prepare for the upcoming Olympics. It is possible the Kings have spoken to the 6-foot-8 floor general, but nothing is confirmed.
Spain’s Usman Garuba is in the same boat. His focus is on his national team, which gave Team USA a run for their money Sunday in a tune-up to the games. He is slated to go anywhere from 12-25 in the upcoming draft.
James Bouknight met with the Kings at the combine in Chicago last month, but there is a chance that he makes his way to Sacramento for a visit before draft night. Bouknight is a big-time scorer, but slightly one-dimensional as he only can play shooting guard, where the Kings already are extremely deep.
Michigan’s Franz Wagner has yet to stop in for a visit and he passed on the combine as well. He’s been stationed in LA working out in preparation for the draft, so it’s very possible the Kings took a short flight to visit him over the last few months.
Sacramento has been linked to the 6-foot-9 forward and there even were rumors of a promise to take him at No. 9. Whether he’ll make it to Golden 1 Center for a workout or not is unknown at this time, but he’s an interesting prospect.
There could be a mad dash to the finish line. The race for No. 9 is wide open and there’s always potential that Sacramento moves up, down or even out of the first round. Either way, they are doing their due diligence on a stack of players.
We might never know the full list of who made the journey to Sacramento to meet the team. During the 2019 draft, 101 prospects rolled through the practice facility and the Kings didn’t even have a first-round pick to work with. Times have changed and the team has shifted the way they handle draft prospect workouts.
There is still plenty to be decided between now and July 29, but the Kings are engaged in the process and preparing for an extremely busy couple of weeks.