Happy draft season basketball fans! For all the Kings fans out there, you should be used to the excitement by now. After all, we’ve had a top ten pick for the past ten seasons. For all the fans of teams new to the early part of the first round, welcome. I hope you’re not here for as long as we were.
The Kings have a decision to make this year, just like any other year. We were awarded the second overall pick in the draft, and are essentially deciding between three players: Luka Doncic, Marvin Bagley, and Michael Porter. While there are other prospects within our range, those are the three that Sacramento has been rumored to be interested in.
The three all have very different strengths, weaknesses, ceilings, and floors. The question we all want to know the answer to is: whose the best? While I can’t time travel, I have a pretty good guess how the three will turn out.
Perhaps the most heavily favored option by Kings fans, Doncic has played professional basketball overseas with Real Madrid since he was only sixteen years old. He has developed a reputation as a winner, athlete, and a high-scoring combo-guard in Europe. Just yesterday, Doncic knocked down an unbelievable fadeaway three-pointer in the ACB Euroleague Championship to seal the game for Real Madrid.
Nobodies perfect, including Doncic however. He has been a part of a European system his entire basketball career and knows no different than what he’s learned overseas. By no means do I think Doncic will be a bad player, but without major improvements to developed parts of his game, he cannot be elite.
Every single elite ball handler in the league has something in common. Whether you use your handles to create long-range shots like Steph Curry, create contact near the Basket like Harden, or find your teammates along the perimeter like Wall, they all share an important similarity: Speed off the dribble. Whether they do it a lot or not, they all still have the ability.
I’ve watched countless highlights, game recaps, and scouting videos of Doncic and he hasn’t showcased that ability yet. He grabs the ball off the rim (slowly), dribbles the ball up the floor (slowly), and then creates a shot (slowly). Overseas, you can manage a slow pace due to the overall lack of athleticism, but the NBA won’t let you get away with that. When defended by the top defensive guards in the league, Doncic would be forced to stay on the perimeter where his defenders could get in his face, denying him the three-point shot.
By no means will Doncic be an awful player. In my opinion, he’s the safest guy in the draft due to his impressive resume overseas and experience with professional basketball. I just don’t think he’ll be any more than a serviceable starter. The Kings need more than a serviceable starter.
Marvin Bagley III
Explosiveness. That word has been used to describe Bagley for months now. Marvin Bagley is a freak athlete from Duke University that can surely bring immediate explosiveness to any lottery team. At nearly seven feet tall, Bagley can jump out of the gym, creating a highlight real of solely putback dunks and lobs in his lone season at Duke.
That’s not all he brings to the table, however. Bagley can defend and rebound like no other big in the draft. You heard me right, Marvin Bagley is the best and most versatile rebounder and defender in the draft. Often times, athletes like Bagley get out-muscled in the paint at the next level. Bagley, however, has one of the highest motors I’ve ever seen out of a top prospect. Often times, I don’t like it when a high motor is a justification for a high draft pick as “high-motor” guys like Jonathan Isaac and Justise Winslow continue to bust. Bagley is a different animal altogether, as he combines his high-motor with a legitimate NBA playstyle.
By all means, I believe Bagley is the best player in the draft after Ayton. He has the potential to be a Kevin Garnett-esque player at the next level. Rebounding, defense, a good enough outside shot to make a defender pay attention to you, and an unmatched intensity could potentially turn Bagley into the second overall pick in the draft, except…
Bagley doesn’t entirely fit in with the current Kings’ roster. In my personal opinion, there are two players on the Kings’ current roster that we can depend on becoming solid players: Bogdan Bogdanovic and Willie Cauley-Stein. Cauley-Stein plays a very similar brand of basketball to Bagley minus the ability to stretch the floor (which he is actually improving upon every day – https://916kingscourt.com/2018/03/27/willie-cauley-stein-from-draft-bust-to-potential-superstar/).
The moment Bagley arrives in Sacramento, Cauley-Stein would immediately be overshadowed. While I think Bagley will be more valuable than Stein, a player that can play with Stein would be more valuable than Bagley. We don’t want a Philadelphia 76ers situation on our hands where all of our best players play the same way, after all.
Michael Porter Jr.
You either love him or you hate him. The former number one projected pick in the draft missed nearly his entire college season at Missouri recovering from a back surgery. Unfortunately for Porter, people are not criticising him for his game, but for his injury troubles.
Porter is the “high-risk, high-reward” player of this draft. He compared himself to Kevin Durant and Giannis Antetokounmpo; for all we know, he could be right if he stays healthy. We literally don’t know, and won’t know til we see him play in the NBA.
The most we have to go off with Porter is high school film and his draft workouts. Draft decisions should never be made over high school film, so it’s unfortunate that he was unable to perform in workouts due to injury.
While I may not be able to talk you into loving his game as much as I do, I can tell you that his injury history isn’t as bad as we all think it is. His surgery was a success and the fact that he was already cleared for basketball activities shows that his recovery is on track. While his missed workouts may appear to be a red flag, they were not missed entirely due to the injury. With his lack of time on court following the injury, he could be opening himself up to furter aggrivation to bring it 100% on court this close to his injury, so it’s better for him not to risk it all in front of his potential suitors.
I don’t know how good Michael Porter will be. Nobody does, not even Michael Porter himself. I personally believe Porter has the highest ceiling in the whole draft. If you pull the short stick however, Porter also has the lowest floor.
Honestly, I don’t feel too strongly any way. We could take the pretty good player with average upside, the guy who could become a star anyday at a deep position in Sacramento, or the guy who could either be a generational talent or never play an NBA game in his career.
Marvin Bagley is the guy I would take with the pick, but don’t be too worried if we end up with Doncic or Porter. They’re not awful scenarios.