With the draft just days away, the Kings are a team mentioned in almost every potential trade. They are aggressively trying to reshape their roster with the hopes of snapping the league’s longest playoff drought.
It all starts Thursday night when the NBA officially kicks off the new season with the 2021 draft. The Kings have been mentioned as a potential landing spot for plenty of players, but it’s a wide-open field at No. 9 with plenty of options.
Will the Kings make the pick? Will they trade the pick for veteran help? Will they move back in the draft and acquire more assets?
All options still are on the table, but if the Kings stay at their current draft position, here is a look at the options and a prediction on who the Kings might select.
Defense is going to be the focus if the Kings stay put at No. 9, and there are plenty of players who fit the bill. Knowing what we know about general manager Monte McNair, two players stand out in Michigan forward Franz Wagner and Arkansas wing Moses Moody.
Wagner worked out with forward Harrison Barnes this summer, so the Kings likely have some inside intel on the 19-year-old. He’s a young sophomore that still is growing into his body and may have even grown an inch or two.
During media sessions Monday, Wagner claimed that he’s nearly 6-foot-11, which makes him even more intriguing as a potential combo forward at the NBA level. While his numbers didn’t jump off the page with the Wolverines, Wagner is solid at almost every aspect of the game and projects as a quality two-way player with defensive upside and potential as a secondary distributor.
He’ll need to tighten his handle and get more reps from behind the arc, but there is a chance for Wagner to carve out a long-term niche in the NBA.
Moody is more in line with what we have seen from McNair during his first 10 months on the job. Listed at 6-foot-6 with a 7-foot-1 wingspan, the former Razorback is a prototypical 3-and-D wing with potential for more.
The 19-year-old knocked down 35.8 percent from three in his lone season at the NCAA level, but that seems like a starting point. There is potential for Moody to further develop his overall offensive game, but he has a solid NBA body and the potential to see time in his rookie season.
If both Wagner and Moody are on the board, McNair will have a tough choice. Wagner might be more versatile, especially if he can further develop his overall offensive skill set and eat time at both forward spots. Moody is a safer pick and his game should translate quicker to the pro game.
After watching countless hours of film, sitting through player interviews and writing both prospect profiles and mock drafts, the Kings are in a very good spot in the upcoming draft. This is not only a star-studded draft at the top end, but a very deep class filled with two-way players that can impact a roster in a year or two.
While Sacramento has been linked to Wagner for a while and Moody is a fan favorite, Australian point guard Josh Giddey is one of my favorite prospects in the draft, specifically for the future of the Kings.
He isn’t a defender like Wagner or Moody, but he has good size to play the one, two or three and his court vision is off the charts. Playing professionally in Australia at just 18-years-old, Giddey averaged 10.9 points, 7.5 assists and 7.4 rebounds per game.
Giddey needs to get stronger, work out his shooting mechanics and develop as a defender, but there is major potential here, especially if he can play small forward or in a three-guard set with De’Aaron Fox and Tyrese Haliburton.
His ability to rebound and initiate the break is elite. If the Kings had this type of passer and playmaker, it would add an element to their offense that doesn’t currently exist.
This is more of a gamble than Wagner or Moody, but when you are drafting in the top 10, the focus should always be on the best player available. There is potential for Giddey to outplay his draft position by a lot and become a difference-maker for a franchise.
This could go plenty of different directions and there is a good chance the Kings move out of the No. 9 spot. But if they make the selection, the prediction days before the draft is that Wagner is the pick.
His skill set, defensive acumen and potential to play both forward positions is intriguing, even if he still needs plenty of work. He might not be a star-level prospect, but he should be a rotational NBA player for a long time with some upside.