Sunday Musings: The Sacramento Kings should deal their 2014 draft pick

Pete D'Alessandro during his introductory press conference as Kings' new GM. (Photo: Jonathan Santiago)

The 2014 NBA lottery is only nine days from today.  For the eighth consecutive season, Sacramento Kings fans will set up shrines, stick pins in voodoo dolls and visit their local priests in hopes of bettering their team’s chances of landing in the top three picks in this year’s star-studded draft.

How good is this draft?  At the top, it’s amazing.  Hakeem Olajuwon, Grant Hill, Tracy McGrady-type amazing, at least in theory. Nothing is a sure bet, but the grouping of Joel Embiid, Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker has elite upside.  All-Star and maybe even Hall of Fame type upside.

But the Sacramento Kings aren’t drafting in the top three.  They are slated to draft at No. 7 and barring a mathematical improbability, they will miss out on the cream of this year’s incredible crop.

Sacramento fans are used to getting their hopes up, only to have them crushed by the reality of the draft lottery.  Keep in mind that Sacramento had the NBA’s worst record in 2009 and had all but penciled in Blake Griffin into the starting lineup when the NBA gods dropped a season-worst 17-win team down to the fourth overall selection.

Sacramento usually falls in the draft.  It’s just the luck of the draw. And even when they have done well in the lottery, it still never works out.

The Kings won the lottery in 1989, but that was a dud of a draft and Pervis Ellison will go down as one of the worst No. 1 picks of all time.

Drafting in the lottery is a complete crapshoot.  For every Dwyane Wade, there is a Tyrus Thomas.  It is a guessing game and for many general managers, a complete mystery.

In recent years, Sacramento has drafted Jimmer Fredette over Kawhi Leonard and Klay Thompson, and  Thomas Robinson over Damian Lillard and Andre Drummond.  It’s been a rough go as of late.

In 1991, Sacramento nabbed the third overall pick.  It yielded Mitch Richmond via trade, which hindsight shows was an incredible move.  A marginal NBA player for a Hall of Famer – impressive.

While the Richmonds of the world don’t grow on trees, that is what the Kings should be looking for right now.  There will be a handful of interesting prospects sitting at No. 7, but honestly, that is not what the Sacramento Kings need.

On Friday the Kings announced a novel idea.  They are offering up an incredible opportunity to be part of the team’s inner circle during the draft process.  And in return, they are looking for original ideas on how they should evaluate draft talent.

This is fun.  It is a PR move that can only prove positive.  But here is an idea that makes even more sense for the Kings- trade the pick.

The Kings have young talent.  They have DeMarcus Cousins, Ben McLemore, Derrick Williams and possibly Isaiah Thomas.  What they need is a player or two that can make an immediate difference in the win column, and this draft may very well attract a team that’s willing to make another Billy Owens for Richmond deal.

Players like Aaron Gordon, Noah Vonleh and Dario Saric are nice prospects, but they are two or three seasons away from being real difference makers for this team.  I’m not sure that the Kings new ownership or management has that kind of patience.

“We were in the playoffs the last three years in Denver,” general manager Pete D’Alessandro said during last month’s media luncheon.  “I woke up that first day after the season. I literally was like, I’m missing something.  I felt like something was missing.”

How do the Kings get to the playoffs sooner rather than later?

Do they get there by grabbing another 19-year-old freshman in the NBA Draft?  Probably not.  They get there by adding pieces to an already intriguing roster.

If it’s any consolation, the Kings are keeping an open mind in regards to either keeping their pick or making a more substantial move.

“Generally speaking, I would say get the best player,” D’Alessandro said.  “But, I’ll take it further.  Do you trade the pick and add to this team and maybe trade down?  Do you add something to your pick and maybe trade up?”

My experience with D’Alessandro tells me that the Kings are looking to improve this roster now.  My experience tells me that D’Alessandro says more than just the words that come out of his mouth.  My experience with D’Alessandro tells me that he is going to explore every option available, including taking advantage of an overhyped draft to land a player that makes more sense for the Kings today than a rookie with no NBA experience would.

What is a top-10 pick in this draft worth?  The answer is simple – whatever someone is willing to give up for it.

Barring a major jump into the top three of this season’s draft, I predict that the Sacramento Kings will move their pick this season. Due to NBA rules, it won’t happen until the pick is already made, but the Kings have a better chance of improving by adding the right veteran to this roster than they do by waiting for another young player to develop.

Teams are chomping at the bit to get into the top ten of this year’s draft, but the seventh pick can’t change the fate of this particular Kings roster.  Sacramento doesn’t need to find the next Billy Owens for Mitch Richmond deal, but cashing in promise for production makes too much sense.

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About: James Ham

James Ham provides coverage through news analysis and in-depth interviews with Kings players and staff. James is also one of the producers behind the award-winning, independent documentary "Small Market, Big Heart". James graduated UC Davis with a degree in history and is happily married with two children.