Whom should the Sacramento Kings draft with the No. 8 pick?
The Sacramento Kings are going to have plenty of options when they make their selection at No. 8 in next week’s NBA Draft. They will watch the first seven picks, waiting to see if one of the stars at the top slides down to them. And then they will make a difficult decision – do they deal it for a veteran or do they make the pick?
Sacramento will weigh its options and then make a move that will benefit the team in both the short term and the more long-term future. Barring a major slide for one of the top prospects, the Kings will have options at No. 8, but the players in that area of the draft are highly specialized in what they do.
The Kings came into this offseason with two glaring points of need – shooting and defense. It would be nice to get both of those needs filled by one player, but unfortunately, that player doesn’t exist where the Kings will draft. Joel Embiid, Andrew Wiggins, Marcus Smart and Noah Vonleh all project as solid two-way NBA players, but they also project in the top seven picks of the draft.
Sacramento may be forced to choose. Will it go with a defensive stalwart like Aaron Gordon if he makes it to No. 8? Or will they go with one of the draft’s best shooters in Doug McDermott or Nik Stauskas?
If all three players are available when the Kings select and a deal for veteran help hasn’t materialized, general manager Pete D’Alessandro may face one of his toughest decisions. Will he draft a player in Gordon that is raw offensively to help his defensive-minded head coach? Or will he go with another weapon in an attempt to open up the spacing for DeMarcus Cousins to work?
At 18 years old, Gordon is one of the youngest players in the draft. His length, athleticism and motor make him a perfect fit on a frontline with Cousins and Rudy Gay (if the veteran wing sticks around). He struggles with his jumper and needs to add bulk, but there is no question that he has the ability to upgrade the Kings defense on day one.
It will take a while for Gordon to fully develop, but he has the potential to be an Andrei Kirilenko-type player that stuffs the stat sheet and helps a team win without having to score big numbers. Like Kirilenko, Gordon is a willing passer and high basketball-IQ player.
McDermott turned heads at the combine when he measured in at 6-7.75 with a 36.5-inch vertical. One of the greatest scorers in NCAA history, McDermott is a polished product and a coach’s son. He will have to prove that he has the quickness to both get a shot off and defend at the NBA level. There are also questions about which forward position he will play as a pro.
McDermott wasn’t asked to pass much as a college player, and his steal and block numbers hardly register on the stat sheet. But the 22-year-old hit an incredible 274 of 598 3-point attempts in his four years at Creighton, which translates to 45.8 percent. If he can become a Wally Szczerbiak type, then he is well worth the No. 8 pick, but there is real concern about his lateral quickness and whether he is athletic enough to guard NBA small forwards.
Stauskas has similar range to McDermott, but plays a completely different style. He has a comparable skill set to Ben McLemore, but is further along in his development, especially as a ball-handler and creator. What he doesn’t have is McLemore’s athleticism, lateral quickness or high-end potential.
The Kings are looking for more than just a shooter, which is where Stauskas might have caught their eye. The 20-year-old out of Michigan is a leader and averaged 3.3 assists from the shooting guard position in his sophomore season. It’s hard to imagine the Kings drafting a shooting guard for the second straight draft, but they need shooting and playmaking at every position.
If Gordon is available and the Kings believe he can be the long-term answer at the power forward position next to Cousins, then this decision will be relatively easy. If they don’t believe he can stay at the four and they are worried that Rudy Gay may leave in free agency, then drafting McDermott makes sense. Lastly, if the Kings have seen enough of McLemore to know that he may take longer to develop than they have time for, then maybe Stauskas is the answer.
With the draft a little over a week away, Sacramento has a very difficult decision on its hands. If the Kings trade the pick for a veteran, then all of this analysis is for naught. Same goes if a star falls down the draft board and lands in their lap. But if they stay at No. 8 and this is the group from which they are choosing, this pick will set the stage for a very interesting couple of weeks as the 2014-15 Kings are assembled.
Pick your poison. If you were drafting No. 8 and had this group to choose from, what would you do with the Kings’ pick?