SACRAMENTO - Ben Simmons isn’t walking through the door in Sacramento. Neither is Brandon Ingram. But before it’s all said and done, the Kings are hopeful that at least some of the prospects that are slated to go in the top 10 of the 2016 NBA Draft will make the flight into the Sacramento International Airport.
Until then, the Kings will continue to parade groups of late second round prospects through their practice facility with the hopes of finding a diamond in the rough for the 59th pick in the draft.
“We’re looking for potential in these workouts,” Kings director of scouting Mike Bratz said on Tuesday. “These are all kids who are more likely late second round candidates or maybe D-League/European prospects. But they’ll have a chance to play in the league depending on how the chips fall.”
This is the way that the draft process is heading. Fewer and fewer top prospects are traveling to NBA cities. Fringe hopefuls are more than willing to jump in against similar quality opponents, but that’s not how it used to be.
In the past, two or three big name college athletes would roll through Sacramento at one time. They would face off against each other and the Kings would surround them with second-round prospects to make 3-on-3 games.
Those days are over. Instead, agents are setting up private workouts in controlled settings for their players. Early in the draft process, they are refusing to workout for teams like Sacramento. Not because they are the Kings, but because they have sold their clients that they are going higher than the eighth spot where Sacramento is drafting.
“All of the agents think they’re going in front of you,” Bratz said. “And history shows it’s not true. We’ve identified a group of players that we feel will be in our range, that may slide to us. There’s always a surprise or two in the draft, so we’re doing our homework. We’ll be ready for any scenario.”
Bratz confirmed that he and other members of the front office took in six different prospect workouts over the weekend in Southern California and there are more scheduled, including stops in Chicago and in Florida.
“End of last week we went to six agent workouts and they showcase their players,” Bratz said. “The workouts are a little bit different. They’re a little more tailored to showing their players strengths. Here, when we have them in our building, we get to find out a little bit more about them individually.”
The plan is to bring in a specific group of players around mid-June. Bratz and his team of scouts have already seen almost every prospect live and they have also watched hours of footage. The last step is to get the players in for conversations with general manager Vlade Divac for some face time.
There are still plenty of options for the Kings between now and June 23. Teams always like to draft the best possible player, but Sacramento has clear positions of need, including point guard, shooting guard and potentially at the wing. Unfortunately, there might not be a player that fits both the best possible player that plays a position of need.
Potential point guards Kris Dunn and Jamal Murray could very well be off the board when the Kings pick at 8. There is a possibility that shooting guard Buddy Hield and wing Jaylen Brown will be gone as well. If all four of these players are off the board, would the Kings be better moving the pick?
“We’re always looking to do something,” Bratz said when asked if the Kings might consider moving up, down or out of the draft. “So yes, we’re doing our homework on a range of players. So yeah, we’re looking.”
As for the prospects that came through Sacramento on Tuesday, Michigan State’s Bryn Forbes and Yuba College’s Manny Malou both dropped by to speak to the media.
Forbes is a 3-point specialist with some defensive potential, but he’s a bit undersized for the two. The senior guard averaged 14.4 points on 48.1 percent shooting from long range this season under coach Tom Izzo and he is expected to go in the back end of the second round or perhaps be available as an undrafted free agent.
Malou is an intriguing prospect, but he’s a long ways from being polished. At age 22, he is behind the curve and will likely have to seek employment overseas while honing his craft.
Rounding out the workout was Stanford’s Rosco Allen, Nikola Jovanovic out of Southern Cal, Patricio Garino out of George Washington and Louisiana-Monroe's Majok Deng.