The 2017 NBA Draft was a deep one, and many teams seemed to have improved their rosters. One of the clubs that really stood out last night was the Sacramento Kings. Yes, you read that right, the Kings. Generally speaking, Sacramento is not one of those teams you would typically label as “well-run”, but maybe things are turning around. It was a crucial draft for them, going into the post-DeMarcus Cousins era. They made quality picks, filling some obvious needs and getting a few players with high upside. I’m not the only person really impressed by Sacramento in this 2017 NBA Draft.
Sacramento Kings Impress, Add Dynamic Point Guard
With their first selection (fifth overall), Sacramento got the best two-way point guard in the draft in De’Aaron Fox. The Kings were in desperate need of a playmaker that makes others around him better, and Fox can definitely be that guy. He led the Southeastern Conference in assists while at Kentucky (per Sports Reference). He continuously put pressure on the opposing defense. Fox’s explosiveness in the open floor should produce easy buckets for this young team, and that helps considerably.
The Kings were just 25th in the NBA last season in fastbreak points(per TeamRankings). Sharpshooter Buddy Hield will be a key benefactor of Fox’s halfcourt penetration into the teeth of the defense, and the bigs should be open for lob passes underneath as well. Every team needs a floor general who can make things happen in a variety of ways on both ends of the floor, and Fox does that the best in this point guard class. He has incredibly quick hands on the perimeter defensively, and he has All-Defensive Team ability with a 6’6″ wingspan.
Fox can be a culture-changing type of player right away for a young squad looking for leaders to emerge. His jumper is the only knock on him, but he can fix that in time.
Potential Pieces At 15 And 20
Sacramento is trading the No. 10 pick to Portland for Nos. 15 and 20 in draft, league sources tell @TheVertical.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojVerticalNBA) June 23, 2017
The Kings chose to deal away the 10th pick to the Portland Trail Blazers in exchange for the 15th and 20th overall selections, per Adrian Wojnarowski. The Kings went with the stockpile play, which is not a bad move for a team rebuilding. With those picks, they drafted Justin Jackson and Harry Giles.
I like the no-nonsense selection of Jackson at 15. He is a 6’8″ small forward with a 6’11” wingspan who brings it on both ends. He was this year’s Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year, which isn’t a bad sign. Jackson can score at all three levels with his height and has drastically improved from three. I like his competitiveness in big moments, and what sticks out is his defense.
Ideally, he’ll match up on 3’s, where his lanky build will alter shots and smother passing lanes. He can switch out on guards in pick-and-roll with his quickness, and contest buckets in the paint as well in spots while helping. Eventually, Jackson could replace Rudy Gay production on the wing, and be a viable starter with more consistency from deep.
With the 20th selection, Sacramento went with a risk/reward move in Giles. This is banking on what could be down the road. This former Duke Blue Devil was at one point the number one high school basketball recruit in the country. Unfortunately, he’s had a barrage of knee injuries, and was a shell of his former self this past season at Duke. That said, there have been flashes at times from the 19-year old. When he’s at his best, Giles can be a force around the basket in terms of converting lobs and blocking shots.
For a team that was 26th in blocks per game (per TeamRankings), Giles could protect the paint off the bench and can switch out on the wing in spots. I like the long-term possibility here with a player with loads of talent when healthy. Paired with Willie Cauley-Stein, they could have great versatility at times in the frontcourt.
A Backup Point Guard with a Veteran’s Moxy
The Kings may have gotten their backup point guard for the future as well. With the 34th selection, they took Frank Mason III. According to James Ham of CSN Bay Area Sports, Mason could be a solid piece behind Fox for the years ahead, considering they have no point guards currently under contract. Darren Collison and Ty Lawson are both impending unrestricted free agents on the back-burner of their careers, and Mason can make a difference right away.
He was the Wooden and Naismith Award winner in his last season with the Kansas Jayhawks. Mason is a smallish guard at under 6’0,” but he plays a lot bigger than his height, as he can finish above the rim with authority. Like Fox, he is also explosive in transition and can fill up the box score at times off the bench. His maturity really stands out to me as a four-year college player, and I think he’ll keep the pressure on Fox to be on his game every night. Sacramento infused a lot of energy and talent into their roster last night, and that was great to see for their fan base. Hopefully, it pays off in the coming years, as I believe it will.