- Addressing the small forward spot will be one of the Kings‘ top priorities this summer, according to Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee, who rates the position a perfect 10/10 in terms of level of need.
Hofstra’s Justin Wright-Foreman is returning to school for his senior year, he announced on Twitter. The 6’1” point guard averaged 24.4 PPG and 3.2 APG in his junior season. Ole Miss guard Terence Davis is also going back to school for his senior campaign, Jeff Goodman of ESPN tweets. The 6’4” Davis averaged 13.8 PPG and 6.2 RPG in his junior year.
In other draft-related news:
- The Clippers and Lakers worked out forwards Omari Spellman (Villanova) and Terry Larrier (UConn) on Thursday, Adam Zagoria of Zagsblog.com tweets. Larrier also has workouts lined up with the Nets (June 5), Knicks (June 6) and Mavericks (June 14), Zagoria adds in another tweet. Spellman is ranked No. 49 by ESPN’s Jonathan Givony on his Top 100 prospects list.
- Seton Hall big man Angel Delgado will work out for the Jazz in the near future after visiting the Lakers on Thursday, according to Zagoria (Twitter link).
- The Kings will bring in centers Jock Landale (St. Mary’s) and Dusan Ristic (Arizona); forwards Todd Withers and Billy Preston; and guards Joel Berry (North Carolina) and Jordan McLaughlin (USC) on Friday, James Ham of NBC Sports Bay Area tweets.
- Rhode Island guard E.C. Matthews has worked out for the Nets, Knicks and Celtics, Zagoria tweets.
While he has long been considered a strong candidate to be the No. 1 pick in this year’s draft, Luka Doncic no longer appears to be a lock to even be a top-three selection, according to ESPN’s Jonathan Givony (Insider link). While it’s hard to know what to believe at this time of year, Givony explains to Kevin Pelton that the Kings, Hawks, and Grizzlies didn’t send anyone to watch the EuroLeague Final Four in person last week, and several NBA evaluators seem to have cooled on Doncic.
Givony believes those evaluators are overthinking matters, but admits “the skepticism is a lot more prevalent than expected.” As ESPN’s draft guru explains, some people around the league have concerns about Doncic’s athleticism – or lack thereof – and his ability to keep improving. However, Givony points to Doncic’s incredible workload over the last 18 months, along with European teams’ relative inattention to players’ diets and conditioning, as reasons why the young star may have not looked quite as impressive in recent months as he did last fall. On an NBA schedule, working with NBA coaches, those issues could be addressed.
Ultimately, Givony and Pelton both believe that Doncic is worthy of the No. 1 pick, with Givony writing that the 19-year-old is “too productive, too skilled, too smart and too good a fit in the modern game to pass up.” However, it remains to be seen how many teams at the top of the draft will agree with that assessment.
Here’s more on the 2018 NBA draft:
- UNC forward Luke Maye has decided to return to the Tar Heels for his senior year after testing the draft waters, he announced today on Instagram. Maye, who earned a spot on the All-ACC First Team and was named the conference’s Most Improved Player, averaged a double-double (16.9 PPG, 10.1 RPG) in 2017/18.
- Texas guard Kerwin Roach II has withdrawn his name from the 2018 draft and will head back to the Longhorns for his senior year, the school announced in a press release. “I’m hungry for the opportunity to make a career in the NBA, but I realize I have to improve in so many areas on the court,” Roach said in a statement. “I’m also on pace to earn my degree, and that is a big deal for me and my family.”
- After testing the draft waters without an agent, West Virginia forward Sagaba Konate will head back to school for his junior year, he confirms to ESPN’s Jeff Goodman (Twitter link).
- Sean Deveney of The Sporting News and the staff at Basketball Insiders are among those who have released new mock drafts this week.
Despite reports suggesting otherwise, the Lakers aren’t believed to have made a promise to Mitchell Robinson to take him in the first round, Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders tweets. Robinson skipped last week’s combine and a report surfaced that the Lakers made a pledge to him with the No. 25 overall pick. The seven-footer did not play college basketball, as he withdrew from Western Kentucky as a freshman last September to focus on the draft. He’s ranked as the No. 22 prospect on ESPN Jonathan Givony’s Top 100 list.
In other draft-related developments:
- The Kings will work out Jaylen Hands (UCLA), Thomas Wilder (Western Michigan), Devon Hall (Virginia), Rawle Alkins (Arizona), B.J. Johnson (La Salle) and George King (Colorado) on Wednesday, according to the team’s website. They brought in Trevon Bluiett (Xavier), Jevon Carter (West Virginia), Wenyen Gabriel (Kentucky), Caleb Martin (Nevada), Cameron Reynolds (Tulane) and Gabe Vincent (UC Santa Barbara) on Monday.
- Bluiett also has workouts scheduled with the Jazz, Bulls and Suns, according to Xavier’s Twitter feed (Twitter link).
- Montana guard Ahmaad Rorie will return to school for his senior year, ESPN’s Jeff Goodman tweets. He averaged 17.2 PPG, 3.9 RPG and 3.7 APG as a junior.
- J.J. Caldwell will be going pro, as Goodman relays (via Twitter). The Texas A&M guard had a rocky college career, as he was ineligible as a true freshman, then got kicked off the team this past season in February for off-the-court issues.
The NBA has officially announced its First and Second All-Rookie Teams for the 2017/18 season. Ben Simmons of the Sixers and Donovan Mitchell of the Jazz – widely viewed as the top two contenders for this season’s Rookie of the Year award – were the only two players to be unanimously selected to the First Team. Celtics forward Jayson Tatum received 99 of 100 potential First Team votes.
Listed below are the NBA’s All-Rookie teams for 2017/18, with the player’s vote total in parentheses. Players received two points for a First Team vote and one point for a Second Team vote.
- Ben Simmons, Sixers (200)
- Donovan Mitchell, Jazz (200)
- Jayson Tatum, Celtics (199)
- Kyle Kuzma, Lakers (193)
- Lauri Markkanen, Bulls (173)
- Dennis Smith Jr., Mavericks (96)
- Lonzo Ball, Lakers (87)
- John Collins, Hawks (76)
- Bogdan Bogdanovic, Kings (75)
- Josh Jackson, Suns (45)
Jackson, who received one First Team vote to go along with 43 Second Team votes, narrowly beat out Bam Adebayo of the Heat for the final spot on the Second Team — Adebayo finished with 44 points.
Outside of Adebayo and the 10 players who earned spots on the All-Rookie teams, 14 other players received votes, with De’Aaron Fox (Kings), OG Anunoby (Raptors), and Jarrett Allen (Nets) leading the way among that group.
Luka Doncic isn’t sure he’ll come stateside to play in the NBA next season, as he tells ESPN’s Jonathan Givony. “I will tell about all at the right time. Right now I just want to celebrate with my team. Soon I will tell,” the prospect said following Real Madrid’s win in the Euroleague Championship.
Doncic is in the conversation for the No. 1 pick, held by Phoenix, though he is not the favorite to go at that spot. The Kings and Hawks follow the Suns in the draft and Givony hears that both teams are likely to pass on the young wing. The scribe spent the weekend in Belgrade along with several NBA executives to watch Doncic in a game in which he scored just 15 points before fouling out late in the fourth quarter.
Sacramento and Atlanta may each look to add a long-term piece in the frontcourt with their top pick. It was previously reported that the Kings aren’t overly-impressed with their current bigs.
“They have a real hole there in the frontcourt. I don’t think that they’re in love with Willie Cauley-Stein by any means. They started Zach Randolph at the four all year long,” Givony previously reported. “What do they do there? Do they go with Marvin Bagley who is going to be a compelling prospect for them?
Givony wonders whether a team will trade up into the top three to select Doncic and suggests without a trade occurring, the 19-year-old could drop to No.4 or No.5, picks held by Memphis and Dallas, respectively.
After trading DeMarcus Cousins during the 2016/17 season, the Kings appeared poised to embark on a full-scale rebuild. However, they hedged their bets to some extent in the 2017 offseason, inking veteran free agents like George Hill, Zach Randolph, and Vince Carter to lucrative contracts in order to reach the salary floor.
Those free agent additions didn’t help much on the court in 2017/18, as the Kings fell out of playoff contention early and focused on developing their young players in the second half of the season. Now, Hill is gone and Carter seems likely to follow, as another year of rebuilding gets underway in Sacramento.
Here are five key questions facing the franchise this summer:
1. What will the Kings do with the No. 2 overall pick?
The Kings hadn’t had much luck in the draft lottery up until this week. Despite years of futility (Sacramento hasn’t made the playoffs since 2006), the franchise hadn’t secured a top-three pick since 1991. That streak ended this spring, as the Kings jumped up from No. 7 to No. 2 in the lottery standings, putting them in position to grab a potential franchise player.
Now the Kings’ front office will have to decide how to maximize the value of that second overall pick. Deandre Ayton and Luka Doncic are widely considered the top two prospects in this year’s draft. Should Sacramento simply be happy to take whichever one of those two doesn’t go No. 1? Will Marvin Bagley III or another player receive serious consideration? Would the Kings explore the possibility of trading down to pick up more assets?
Sacramento is only two years removed from making Georgios Papagiannis a lottery pick, so the front office hasn’t exactly earned the benefit of the doubt. Still, given the Kings’ prime position and the relative strength of this year’s class, it seems safe to assume that the team should come out of the draft with another building block to complement De’Aaron Fox.
2. Can the Kings get back into the first round of the 2019 draft?
If the Kings do decide to move down in the draft, last year’s Celtics/Sixers swap should serve as a template. In fact, the asset Boston picked up in that trade for moving down two spots will likely end up being Sacramento’s 2019 first-round pick. Missing their own first-rounder for 2019 is bad news for the Kings, who figure to remain a lottery team a year from now, but if they can find a way to acquire another ’19 pick, that would soften the blow.
The Kings could also look to the Nets as a reference point as they go shopping on the trade market. Despite having sent their own first-round picks to other teams for several years in a row, the Nets found ways to get back into the first round or to pick up other selections, either by trading their own veterans or taking on another teams’ unwanted contracts. The Kings can head into the new league year armed with cap space and expiring contracts, so they should have some options.
Michigan State wing Miles Bridges, a probable lottery pick, interviewed with the Bulls, Pacers, Kings, Cavaliers, Spurs, Nuggets, and Clippers earlier this week, and was set to meet with the Sixers, Hornets, and Knicks on Friday, per Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer.
Bridges is one of several intriguing prospects the Sixers are meeting with in Chicago this week, according to Pompey, who adds Missouri forward Michael Porter Jr., Michigan State power forward Jaren Jackson Jr., and IMG Academy guard Anfernee Simons to that list. Kentucky’s Hamidou Diallo was also scheduled to interview with Philadelphia on Friday, Pompey tweets.
Finally, Pompey has details on Villanova’s Donte DiVincenzo, who has been impressing NBA evaluators at this week’s combine and says he’s received plenty of “positive feedback.” According to Pompey, DiVincenzo has had meetings with the Lakers, Magic, Timberwolves, Trail Blazers, Cavaliers, Spurs, Hawks, and Grizzlies in Chicago.
Here’s more on meetings taking place at the combine:
- Creighton guard Khyri Thomas has met – or will meet – with the Trail Blazers, Suns, Bulls, Wizards, Hawks, Celtics, and Lakers at this week’s draft combine, writes Jason Quick of The Oregonian. Eric Woodyard of The Deseret News adds the Jazz to that list. Thomas is viewed as a potential first-round pick, ranking 23rd on Jonathan Givony’s big board at ESPN.com.
- Miami guard Lonnie Walker, the No. 14 prospect on Givony’s top 100, met with the Knicks and a few other top-10 teams at the combine, per Ian Begley of ESPN.com.
- Landry Shamet (Wichita State), Moritz Wagner (Michigan), and Wendell Carter Jr. (Duke) were among the prospects to interview with the Timberwolves this week, tweets Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News.
- Miami swingman Bruce Brown Jr. and Alabama guard Collin Sexton are among the combine participants who have met with the Magic, according to Josh Robbins of The Orlando Sentinel (Twitter links). According to Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer, Sexton also met with the Hornets this week and expects to work out for Charlotte sometime before the draft.
- The Grizzlies and Hawks were among the teams to interview Kansas guard Devonte’ Graham this week, writes Eric Woodard of The Deseret News.
- South Carolina wing Brian Bowen may not stay in the draft, but he has been busy lately. According to Woodyard, Bowen had pre-draft workouts with the Nets, Celtics, Spurs, and Jazz, and interviewed with the Timberwolves, Raptors, and Kings at the combine.
- Speaking of Doncic, agent Bill Duffy tells Deveney that “Luka has stated no particular thought on any NBA teams.” The comment is certainly intended a response to those who interpreted Doncic’s lack of commitment to the NBA as a signal that he doesn’t want to play for the Kings or another team that might use a high pick on him.
- According to Adam Zagoria of ZagsBlog.com (Twitter link), the Pelicans, Hawks, Cavaliers, Kings, Thunder, Grizzlies, Jazz, Spurs, Sixers, Nets, and Timberwolves have reached out to express interest in IMG Academy prospect Anfernee Simons.