Kings

Source: Kings looking at 'multiple options to make our team better'

Source: Kings looking at 'multiple options to make our team better'

It’s been almost two weeks since the Sacramento Kings jumped from the potential seventh overall selection, all the way up to No. 2. The unexpected boost in good fortune has set off a flurry of conversation about what the Kings might do with the pick.

It’s in an enviable position. The 2018 NBA Draft has plenty of talent, especially in the top five. Barring a seismic move that sees the Kings moving out of the top end of the draft, there is potential to land a much needed star.

Sacramento has time to mull over potential offers, research players and make a decision they believe will benefit the franchise long term. After multiple conversations, it appears the team is taking an open minded approach as to which player they will select.

“This is a draft with a handful of elite talents at the top,” a team source told NBC Sports California. “That presents multiple options to make our team better.”

Options are a good thing. Or at least they can be. Phoenix will dictate the opening of the action. They are expected to keep the No. 1 overall selection and Deandre Ayton is the likely choice. After that pick, things might get interesting.

Option 1 - Go with the Flow
There are plenty of NBA experts that believe that Slovenian guard/forward Luka Doncic is the second best player in the upcoming draft. Sacramento spent plenty of time during the season scouting the 19-year-old and a source confirms that they had multiple representatives in attendance at the EuroLeague Final Four.

He’s the most decorated European prospect to come along in decades, winning the European League’s Rising Star award the last two seasons to go with this season’s league MVP and Finals MVP awards.

Doncic has the basketball IQ and playmaking ability to step in and help in Year One. He’s an accomplished player with years of experience playing professionally in Europe. Like Bogdan Bogdanovic last year, Doncic has played non-stop for the last 19 months and is going to need a break this summer.

This might be the safe pick for Sacramento, unless Ayton unexpectedly falls. If Doncic can stick at the small forward position, he instantly fills the team’s biggest need and despite his age, he can step in on Day 1 and play major minutes.

Option 2 - Go Big
This isn’t an Ayton/Doncic or bust situation. There are three big men slated to go near the top of the draft that are intriguing. Marvin Bagley III out of Duke is the most accomplished offensive weapon of the group. Michigan State’s Jaren Jackson Jr. projects as a high-end two-way player with major upside and Mo Bamba out of the University of Texas is raw offensive player with incredible shot-blocking abilities.

The Kings have plenty of bigs, but Bagley, Jackson and Bamba are intriguing prospects. With Willie Cauley-Stein, Kosta Koufos and Zach Randolph all entering a contract year and questions remaining about Skal Labissiere and Harry Giles, Sacramento might be in the market for a big in the near future.

Option 3 - The Gamble
The Kings are very high on Michael Porter Jr. Coming into the 2018 season, he was considered a potential top overall selection, but an early season back surgery wiped out all but three games of his freshman season at Missouri.

Porter fits the team’s biggest need, sliding right into the starting lineup at the small forward position. At 6’-10.75” with a 7-foot wingspan, he has incredible size for the three and he has the athleticism to slide over and play a stretch four.

He’ll need a clean bill of health if he’s going second overall, but don’t be shocked if the Kings take a long look.

Option 4 - Move Down
If Sacramento could move down a few spots in the draft, land the player they want and add a piece or two, that would be ideal. The issue with this plan is that the teams in the top six don’t exactly have a lot to offer in way of trade.

Atlanta appears to be fine sitting at No. 3 and selecting Bagley or Jackson. They have three first round selections this year, a couple of intriguing young players and a top 10 protected Cleveland Cavaliers pick in 2019. They also have plenty of holes to fill in their roster.

The Grizzlies owe a protected 2019 pick to the Boston Celtics. It’s top eight protected in a year, top six protected in 2020 and unprotected in 2021, meaning Memphis can’t offer a first round selection until 2023. In addition, Memphis is void of young prospects that would help the Kings in their quest to improve their roster.

Dallas has a 2019 pick and they also have the ability to take on a contract if the Kings want to clear up some cap space. Like Atlanta, they have plenty of holes to fill in their roster, but this is one of the few trade down partners that might work if the Kings actively shop the pick.

Orlando has the sixth overall selection and a 2019 first round pick, but this might be too far for the Kings to move down. Sacramento would love to get their hands on a player like Jonathan Isaac, but it’s highly unlikely the Magic would use the 20-year-old forward to move up four spots in the draft.

Option 5 - Move Out
It would take a once in a lifetime offer from a team to get the Kings to move out of the No. 2 overall selection and drop out of the top five or six picks in this year’s draft. If a young star becomes available, the Kings would have to kick the idea around, but barring something mind blowing, this option is pretty limited.

There are potential franchise changing players at the top of this draft and Sacramento has an opportunity to change their stars with one pick. They can play it safe, add a big for the future, take a gamble or make a deal. The Kings have options, but whatever path they choose, they need to get it right.

Kings rookie Marvin Bagley III keeps big night in blowout in perspective

Kings rookie Marvin Bagley III keeps big night in blowout in perspective

Marvin Bagley III had a ball game. After Bagley played just 12 minutes in the opener, Kings head coach Dave Joerger turned the rookie loose in the first quarter against the New Orleans Pelicans on Friday, and the 19-year-old answered the call. 

The No. 2 overall pick went at All-Star Anthony Davis, showing a variety of skill moves in the paint on his way to an early, career-best 19 points on 7-of-10 shooting. He added eight rebounds, three assists, three steals and a block. 

All of those numbers are nice, but they came in a 149-129 loss to the Pelicans.

It wasn’t an effort issue, and the Kings' offense is running just fine. Sacramento has all kinds of issues on the defensive end, which is why Bagley, who had a perfectly nice break-out game, led the team with a minus-21 in the plus/minus category. 

This isn’t a carryover from his college days at Duke. The NBA is a different beast, and the Kings are running a squad of young players out there. Bagley is one of nine players who stepped on the floor for Sacramento with four years or fewer of professional experience. 

Every night is an opportunity to learn and get better for all of these players. Following the game, Bagley said the right things. 

“I did all right, I would like to win,” Bagley told reporters in New Orleans. “Get that going in that direction, but it’s a process. This is game two of a long season, so we’ve just got to figure out what we need to do to pull games like that out.”

In the end, wins and losses are the ultimate goal, and if the Kings lose sight of that, they’ve made a huge mistake. It’s good that Bagley already has that perspective in mind.

When speaking about Bagley and fellow Kings rookie, Harry Giles earlier in the week, Utah Jazz big man, Rudy Gobert, made a point along these same lines. 

“The most important thing is that you really play to win,” Gobert said. “When you start playing just to play or just to show what you can do, but if you don’t play to win is when things get ugly.”

In his rookie season, Gobert’s Jazz team went 25-57. They improved to 38-44 in year two and 40-42 in year three before finally breaking through for 51 wins in year three. 

Utah didn’t win right away, but they continued to show improvement and played the game to with the right intentions.

The Kings are going to take their lumps this season in a similar way that the Jazz did. Sacramento isn’t predicted to make the playoffs and Vegas has them falling short of the 30-win total. 

Wins might not come easily for the Kings this season, but that doesn’t change the approach. They need to play every game with the intention to win. If they lose sight of that goal, that’s when things get ugly.

Kings takeaways: What we learned in 20-point road loss to Pelicans

Kings takeaways: What we learned in 20-point road loss to Pelicans

BOX SCORE

No luck in the Big Easy.

The Sacramento Kings played a highly competitive 20 minutes of basketball Friday night at Smoothie King Center, but in the NBA, you have to play a full 48. 

The New Orleans Pelicans hit the gas pedal and ran the Kings off the court from the late second quarter on, picking up a 149-129 win in their home opener. 

For the second consecutive game, Sacramento struggled on the defensive end, allowing New Orleans to torch the Kings for 58.9 percent shooting from the field and 51.6 percent from 3-point range. 

Nikola Mirotic and Anthony Davis put up huge numbers, but it was a team effort as eight players scored in double figures for the Pelicans. 

Willie Cauley-Stein scored over 20 points for the second consecutive game, and four others scored 17 or more for Sacramento.

Here are three takeaways as the Kings start 0-2 on the season. 

Mirotic is on fire

The Kings knew slowing down Davis was paramount to have a chance against the Pelicans in the opener. Davis was good (25 points, 10 rebounds and six assists), but Mirotic was unstoppable.

The smooth-shooting stretch four went off for career-high 36 points on 14-of-21 shooting from the field and 5 of 9 from long range. He added nine rebounds in New Orleans' blowout win.

Welcome to the NBA, Marvin Bagley III  

After Bagley played just 12 minutes in the opener, Kings coach Dave Joerger went to the rookie early in the first quarter, and he went to work. The 19-year-old aggressively attacked Davis and his Pelicans teammates, as Bagley hit his first five shots on the way to 14 points before the break.

Bagley didn’t find the same success in the second half, but it was a productive night for the rookie, as he set new career highs with 19 points, eight rebounds, three assists, two steals and one block in 32 minutes.

Fox is answering the call 

The second-year pro continued his strong play. In the opener, he managed to drop 21 points and dish out seven assists. Fox backed that up with 18 points, six assists and six rebounds in 26 minutes of action in New Orleans.

The 20-year-old is brimming with confidence and showing that he’s ready to take a leap in his sophomore season.