So here we are, the 2009 NBA Draft. The Sacramento Kings haven’t had a pick this high since 1991 and the whole Billy Ownes debacle that eventually led to the Mitch Richmond era, which begat the Chris Webber golden age of Kings basketball.
So now with the fourth pick, the Kings have to decide not only if need is the biggest… well… need for this roster or if they should go after the best player available regardless of position OR if they should trade the pick for a veteran presence, much like the Wizards just pulled off. Not to be some drama queen about the whole situation but this is pretty much a turning point in the organization’s tightrope walk between obscurity and mediocrity or a path back to the playoffs. It’s not a completely dire straits situation where it’s make or break but if the Kings draft Jonny Flynn or Tyreke Evans with Ricky Rubio on the board, these guys have to not only be Rookie of the Year candidates but they have to show the potential to be All-Stars and franchise leaders. There’s no guarantee that Rubio will be a star but he’ll bring in national exposure that brings the franchise to the forefront of the NBA conversation again.
A Rubio selection means Wednesday night games on ESPN, Thursday night games on TNT, and maybe even a Sunday afternoon or two on ABC. It means potentially having a point guard that guys want to come play with. It means drawing the attention of the entire basketball world and not just the occasional onlooker from inside our own state. It means embodying the idea of putting team first with a pass-first point guard. It means the potential express progression of Hawes and JT with a point guard that can feed them perfectly in the post, on pick and rolls, and pick and pops.
But what if he’s not there? What if Minnesota moves up to grab him or the Thunder decide to piss off Russell Westbrook? What if the options are Tyreke Evans, Jonny Flynn, or Stephen Curry?
Are those acceptable “consolation” prizes? The hearts of Kings fans were broken when they didn’t land a Top 3 pick. But landing a player with the fourth pick who doesn’t pan out would be much worse. It would be like breaking the will of a wild horse. Sure they can ramp up whenever they want to and stretch the old legs in a majestic gallop but there’s a part of them where trust in the way of life they used to know is completely gone. If Kings fans had to suffer through the sudden end of their title contention during the Rick Adelman era, only to endure through Eric Musselman, Reggie Theus, and a 17-win season that seemed completely foreign to a city that had tasted sweet success and become addicted to it and have to settle for a busted fourth pick, that could very easily bring down the future ceiling of enthusiasm for this team’s eventual resurgence.
And at the same time, the Kings could hit a jackpot. No one thought that Jason Williams or Peja Stojakovic or Kevin Martin would turn out as well as they did. Tyreke Evans could turn out to be an unstoppable force that is capable of obliterating the immovable object. Jonny Flynn could become the next Tim Hardaway without the homophobia. Stephen Curry could be Gilbert Arenas 2.0 and an unstoppable 25 points per game force that gives the Kings a certain swagger of invincibility. And that’s the beauty of today.
The NBA Draft Day is my favorite sporting day of the year. To me, it’s better than the first day/weekend of March Madness. It’s better than any All-Star game. It’s better than the Superbowl and it’s better than opening night in the NBA. It isn’t like the NFL Draft that drones on and on for two days. There are certainties about the NBA Draft that we’ve all come to know and love. We know there are going to be a multitude of trades that bring about new hope to a franchise. We know that the Knicks fans are going to boo whomever they select that isn’t a small combo guard from Davidson. We know that Blake Griffin is about to be cursed and Chris Wallace is too scared to pull the trigger on a deal that nets them two draft picks instead of one because he’s afraid of being wrong. We know that the Clippers are trying to pass Zach Randolph around like the yellow Starburst that nobody wants to eat.
The NBA Draft brings about a new energy to every fan in the NBA. Whether it’s a nervous energy or an excited energy or an energy of wanting to throw up into your division championship wall pennant, there’s still an energy and electricity in the air. When David Stern sidles up to the podium, everyone waits with bated breath. He could be announcing a trade, the next great pick for your franchise or the next pick for your team that you get rail against for the decade and say, “I told you so.”
So here’s my expert analysis and predictions for the day based on everything I’ve heard and read (that sounded like I’m a lot more connected than I actually am):
- The Kings will take Ricky Rubio if he’s available. There’s nothing that has been mentioned to me about this; it’s just a feeling. Well, in the words of Boston, it’s more than a feeling. It’s an understanding that I feel like I have with the basketball world. The most likely reason for the comments to leak out about Tyreke Evans being the guy no matter what seems to be posturing in my opinion. It’s the only way to avoid having to trade up to get Rubio.
– With that said, I think the Thunder take Rubio and either make Russell Westbrook like it or deal Ricky for some much-needed assets.
– I think the Kings will take Tyreke Evans if they can move the 23rd and 31st picks to get into the middle of the first round. Otherwise, I think the pick will be Stephen Curry. Personally, I think Jonny Flynn should be the guy but there’s something really intriguing about Curry as a point guard in the same backcourt as Kevin Martin. If they can add a veteran backup point guard via free agency to complement Curry, then they’ve created a very nice guard rotation.
Whether you have a pit in your stomach right now or butterflies, just remember that anything can happen on draft day. Kings fans and fans all across the NBA should be excited about the possibilities.
There are definitely worse things than having Geoff Petrie deciding the future of your franchise. Right, Clippers fans?