With the 2020 NBA Draft a little less than three weeks away, the rumor mill is starting to heat up. According to Marc Berman of the New York Post, the Kings might have their eye on speedy point guard Kira Lewis out of Alabama.
“In mock drafts, Lewis is pegged in the 12-17 range -- probably because of his defensive shortcomings,” Berman wrote Wednesday. “According to a source, the Kings, at No. 12, are very interested.”
Lewis is an intriguing prospect. He’s listed at 6-foot-3, 165 pounds, but according to Berman, Lewis bulked up to 180 during the pandemic, which should really help him at the next level.
With De’Aaron Fox soon expected to sign a massive contract extension and Cory Joseph under contract for next season with a team option for 2021-22, why would the Kings need Lewis?
First up, the Kings have had Lewis high on their board for some time. He fits the style of play that new general manager Monte McNair wants to play. He’s lightning quick and nearly impossible to stay in front of. If the Kings hope to push the tempo and pace this season, having another track star in the rotation would make sense.
In his sophomore season at Alabama, Lewis averaged 18.5 points, 5.2 assists and 4.8 rebounds. He shot 50.7 percent from the field and 36.6 percent from long range.
At the NBA level, he projects as a Lou Williams-type scorer off the bench, although he’ll need to work hard to reach that level. Williams is a three-time winner of the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year award and he only seems to get better with age.
Adding a player like Lewis would give Sacramento two of the fastest guards in the league and allow coach Luke Walton to basically keep the foot on the gas all game long.
Joseph played an important role with the Kings last season, especially when Fox went down with an ankle injury early on. He became a leader behind the scenes and was a steady hand for Walton’s group.
The fact remains, though, that Joseph isn’t built for the speed and pace the Kings hope to play with. He’s a really good game manager and a strong defender, but Sacramento could use another ball handler and creator.
A look at the Houston Rockets, McNair’s former team, could also shed some light on why Lewis makes sense.
Houston boasted a starting backcourt of former MVPs James Harden and Russell Westbrook, but they had depth at the guard positions as well. Eric Gordon and Austin Rivers both averaged over 23 minutes per game, giving coach Mike D’Antoni an arsenal to work with.
The Kings felt the power of the Rockets' depth in the Orlando bubble when Harden dropped 32 points on them and Rivers came off the bench to chip in a career-best 41.
Adding another scorer to the backcourt would also open the door for McNair to make additional moves. Buddy Hield isn’t happy with his role coming off the bench and Bogdan Bogdanovic is a restricted free agent.
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If the Kings were to draft a player like Lewis, it would open a few options that the Kings don’t currently have. Even if they walk into the season with Fox, Joseph, Hield and Bogdanovic all under contract, they could rebalance the roster at the trade deadline or even next summer when the team has a decision to make on Joseph.
The primary objective for the Kings should be to accumulate as much talent as possible, regardless of position. If they deem Lewis as the best prospect available at pick No. 12, then that is who they should select. The rest will take care of itself.