Five questions to ponder ahead of the 2014 NBA Draft

Center Sim Bhullar speaks with Michael Malone and Raj Bhathal following workout before Sacramento Kings. (Photo: Jonathan Santiago)

The NBA Draft is several away hours away and the Sacramento Kings feel about as prepared as they can be. They’ve put in the work and they’ve put in the time. Now, it’s just a matter of seeing what happens before they are officially on the clock with the eighth overall pick.

Will they or won’t they make a move during this year’s draft? That remains to be seen. What we do know is that they have been active. Reports have surfaced leading up to today detailing the possibilities of the Kings moving down, trading up or dealing out of the draft altogether.

Here are five questions to ponder about the Sacramento Kings before Adam Silver takes the draft podium for the first time as NBA commissionerL

1. How will health concerns on Joel Embiid and Julius Randle impact the order of the draft?

Embiid and Randle’s health issues are well documented. Two weeks ago, multiple reports suggested that the 19-year-old forward out of Kentucky would need to have surgery on his right foot following the draft. Meanwhile, last week, Embiid went under the knife to repair a stress fracture in his right foot discovered during his workout with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Embiid may no longer be in contention for one of the top two picks and could fall as low as the Celtics at six. Meanwhile, it appears Randle won’t fall further than seven to the Lakers. If either one of these two prospects are available at eight, the Kings may be tempted to bite.

2. If they keep the pick, will the Kings address their shooting struggles or the defensive woes with their selection?

Depending on how the draft plays out, the Kings could address one of several areas of weakness with their pick. If Aaron Gordon or Marcus Smart are available when Sacramento is on the clock at eight, both players would certainly provide a boost to the Kings’ defense. It’s not a secret that both prospects are versatile enough to guard multiple positions. But if Nik Stauskas and Doug McDermott are available, either player would immediately address Sacramento’s struggles from the perimeter. The Kings ranked 27th in 3-point shooting last season.

3. Would the Kings reach on a prospect?

To be specific, would the Kings reach on Elfrid Payton? It appears that Sacramento has taken a liking to the young point guard out of Louisiana-Lafayette, which would explain why the Kings may consider moving down in the draft. Payton was slated as a first-round pick in the teens and the 20s for much of the pre-draft process. However, the 20-year-old guard’s stock has risen at just the right time. Multiple outlets, including ESPN.com and Draft Express, are projecting Payton as a lottery pick at this point. If the Kings can’t find way to move down a few spots to nab him, it might not be a shocker to see him picked eighth when the Kings are on the clock.

4. Will the Kings acquire a second-round pick?

The Kings have made it known that they are trying to acquire more picks and why wouldn’t they? This year’s draft has been touted as one of the deepest in years and the Kings might be able to nab a potential rotation player with a second-rounder. Deonte Burton of Nevada and Nick Johnson of Arizona were two of several players the Kings hosted in pre-draft workouts who may be available in the second round. After years of sometimes selling picks for cash considerations, the Kings may end up being buyers this time around.

5. Will Jason Thompson finally be moved?

It’s pretty clear that a divorce needs to be in order for Thompson and the Kings. In a lengthy interview with Cowbell Kingdom, the veteran big man voiced his displeasure with the way his sixth NBA season played out, calling this year the most frustrating year of his career. The 27-year-old power forward is the longest tenured member of the franchise, but no longer appears to be in the Kings’ long-term plans. Thompson is rumored to be part of a deal the Kings have discussed with the Pistons that would bring Josh Smith to Sacramento. He could also be included in a trade package with the No. 8 pick. Though he’s proven to be a solid player during his time with the Kings, $15 million of his remaining $19.2-million contract is guaranteed and that could scare away some teams.

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About: Jonathan Santiago

Jonathan Santiago serves Cowbell Kingdom as senior editor specializing in writing, podcasting and video production. He also handles the majority of CK’s day-to-day beat coverage of the Kings.