Sacramento Kings fans have become accustomed to major disappointment on draft lottery night. It’s become a running joke that regardless of how bad the team finishes in the standings, you can count on drafting two or even three spots below where they should. Call it the law of Kings fandom or the curse of the small market.
On Thursday, roughly a hundred people wedged into the Firestone Public House, a new restaurant in Downtown Sacramento. It was turned into a makeshift lottery headquarters for Kings fans awaiting the bad news. The mixed crowd of business suits and Kings gear expected the worst – that the team would be drafting sixth, seventh or eighth. Maybe a few delusional fans were holding out for a May 30th miracle that would pair DeMarcus Cousins with super-rookie-to-be Anthony Davis, but those were “new fans”.
The crowd was anxious. There was actual tension – and no, it wasn’t because Kings co-owner Gavin Maloof made a surprise appearance. DeMarcus Cousins, head coach Keith Smart, a handful of Kings dancers and plenty of ticket sales reps were there too.
Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver turned over the card for the eighth pick and it read Raptors. A collective sigh came over the crowd. Silver flipped over the next card and low and behold, it said Warriors, followed by the Brooklyn Nets in the six hole.
Then, silence in the building.
Hopes were raised but dashed seconds later when the Kings logo was revealed as the fifth pick. However, there was a moment in between that came with an amazing realization – the Kings hadn’t lost. They hadn’t won either, but who cares? This fan base, this franchise, this team is used to losing. Confusion, chaos and silence followed. Then frustration and anger consumed the room because the “Unibrow” was going elsewhere.
Pick no. 5. That has a nice ring to it. In a five-man draft, it has a very nice ring to it. After Davis, there are four extremely talented players – Bradley Beal, Thomas Robinson, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Andre Drummond, and one will be available when the Kings are on the clock.
I’m not saying the Kings will end up with one of these five players, mind you. I don’t know what will happen between now and draft night, but the possibilities are endless. Trade up, trade down, trade out or draft at five - those are the choices and trust me, the Kings will have an opportunity to do any one of these options.
Yesterday was a big night for the Kings. They secured a major asset in a very good draft. And while they didn’t win the lottery, they didn’t lose either. The silver lining is progress.