For over a decade, Sacramento Kings glue themselves to a television set watching the NBA’s Draft lottery. More often than not, the ping pong ball betrayed Kings fans, leaving them cursing and the team sliding down the draft board.
Sacramento improved this season, moving all the way down to the last team in the lottery, but the selection is long gone. One of Vlade Divac’s first moves as an executive was to deal Nik Stauskas, Jason Thompson and Carl Landry to the Philadelphia 76ers in a salary dump. The cost was a pair of potential pick swaps and a 2019 unprotected first round pick.
It wasn’t a good deal at the time and it looked even worse when the Kings jumped from No. 8 to No. 3 in the lottery, but were forced to swap the No. 3 pick to the 76ers for the No. 5 pick in the 2017 Draft. While it could have hurt the team greatly, Divac still landed the player he wanted in Fox and it looks like he made the right move.
While the excitement of the lottery is all but extinguished in Sacramento, there is still plenty of reasons to watch.
Here are five of the worst-case scenarios that could play out and leave Kings fans distraught on Tuesday evening.
1. The Revenge of Sauce Castillo
Dealing a future first-rounder in any trade is treacherous, but the Kings’ improved record helps take the sting off of the 2015 Nik Stauskas aka Sauce Castillo salary dump deal. Sacramento’s pick currently sits at No. 14, putting it at just a .5 percent of moving into the top spot in the draft. If the pick lands at No. 1 overall, the Sixers keep it. If lands in any other spot, it belongs to the Boston Celtics, who acquired the pick in a 2017 draft day deal.
The pick is gone either way, but if by some miracle it moves into the top three, Divac’s nightmare starts all over again. If it stays at No. 14, the trade has a much lower chance of being rehashed for the next month leading up to draft night.
2. LA Story
The Kings and Lakers had an incredible rivalry early in the 2000s, whether the good people of Los Angeles believe it or not. With Luke Walton leaving the Lakeshow and joining the Kings, the rivalry may heat up again. The two teams finished the year just two games apart in the standings, leaving LA with just a two percent chance of moving into the top spot. If the Lakers boast a starting lineup that includes LeBron James and Zion Williamson for the next few season, it’s a blow to Sacramento’s chances of breaking their 13-season playoff drought.
3. Getting Hot in Phoenix
As a young team, the Kings are looking around and wondering who might be a team to beat in the coming decade. Phoenix is a hot mess, but they have a ton of young talent from their recent history of drafting at the top of the lottery. The Suns have a 14 percent chance of landing a top spot in the lottery. Pairing Williamson with Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton could create a young super team.
4. Luka and the Unicorn
Dallas made a bold move last summer, handing over a top five protected 2019 first rounder to move from No. 5 to No. 3 in the draft. They selected Luka Doncic with the third selection and the early returns point towards stardom. There is six percent chance that the Mavs jump to the top selection and a 26 percent chance they land in the top four. If they do that, Dallas keeps their pick and adds another major piece to their expanding treasure chest that includes Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis. Adding talent to young Western Conference teams is not a good thing for the KIngs.
[RELATED: Ham's NBA mock draft]
5. KAT Scan
Like Dallas and Phoenix, the Minnesota Timberwolves have young talent and a lot of issues. Thibs is gone, but Karl-Anthony Towns is about as strong a building block as you can find in the league. Minny made the postseason during the 2017-18 season, so they aren’t that far away. There is a three percent chance of pairing Towns and Williamson, but a 14 percent chance of the T-Wolves stealing away a top four pick. The best case scenario is Minnesota, Dallas, Phoenix and Los Angeles all losing out on a top spot and having to build through free agency like the Kings and plenty of other teams.