The basketball gods shined brightly down on the city of Sacramento Tuesday evening. Defying the odds, the Kings moved up in the NBA Draft for one of the few times in their franchise history, climbing from the seventh overall selection to No. 2 overall.
Sacramento came into the night with just a six percent chance of moving up to the second pick. But when the Chicago Bulls’ card was turned over at the seventh spot, the excitement level in amongst Kings fans went through the roof.
When the Atlanta Hawks pulled the third pick, the Kings were guaranteed a top-two selection in what many experts believe is a two man race for the top overall pick.
"We couldn’t be more thrilled to secure the second selection in this deep and talented draft class,” general manager Vlade Divac said via press release. “We are well positioned moving ahead and look forward to continuing to develop and improve our team.”
Arizona big man DeAndre Ayton is considered an early favorite for the top spot, but Slovenian sharpshooter, Luka Doncic, isn’t done playing overseas and has plenty of time to unseat the 7-footer.
What does all of this mean for the Sacramento Kings? It’s early in the process, but they have a legitimate opportunity to select a franchise-altering player.
Ayton is a beast in the post. At 7-foot-1, 250-pounds, the 19 year-old center is built like Hall of Fame big man David Robinson. He has an advanced offensive game, including the ability to shoot from the perimeter. In his lone season in the Pac-12, he averaged 20.1 points and 11.6 rebounds per game.
He will take a year or two to develop at the NBA level, especially on the defensive end, but Ayton is a starter on day one and has superstar potential.
While Ayton has an NBA body, Doncic is a versatile player that can see time at the point guard, shooting guard and small forward positions. He has an incredible basketball IQ and has played professionally for years in Europe.
At 19 years old, Doncic would step in and instantly start at the wing for Sacramento alongside De’Aaron Fox and Bogdan Bogdanovic. He can shoot, handle the ball and create for others. He lacks elite lateral quickness, which will hurt him on the defensive end, but like Bogdanovic, he is a solid team defender with an advanced understanding of the game.
Sacramento comes into the offseason with roughly $20 million to spend in free agency and a roster filled with young players on the rise. With a lot of luck in the lottery, they now have the opportunity to add a star-level player to their core with the second overall selection.
The ping pong balls have spoken. Be it Ayton or Doncic, the Kings are in a position to potentially add a franchise player. It’s a good day to be a Kings fan.