It is finally here. The 2022 NBA draft is about 24 hours away and rumors are more abundant than ever.
The last entry comes from Atletico Zach Harper and is very interesting for the Sacramento Kings (emphasis mine):
The sources said so Atletico that (Deandre) Ayton is highly sought after of Detroit and Atlanta, and Sacramento has verified a potential acquisition. The Hawks and the Pistons both have a lot of flexibility to strike a deal. Even if a team is able to offer Ayton a maximum bid sheet, the Suns should match rather than lose it outright.
The former No. 1 of the infamous 2018 draft, in which the Kings chose Marvin Bagley III over Luka Doncic, is likely away from the Phoenix Suns after their relationship was damaged during the playoffs exit. Coincidentally, against Doncic and the Mavs.
Deandre Ayton is almost certainly the player Sacramento would have taken in place of Bagley III if he had had the first pick. He has shown a lot of promise in coming out of the University of Arizona and has since proven that he has the skills the league thought he would. He has shown great potential and could be one of the major NBA greats of this generation.
But would he work on the Kings?
It is not likely. While he is a great center and satisfies Sacramento’s need for a truly great man who has both offensive and defensive skills, the pairing of him and Domantas Sabonis on the front line is not attractive and would be similar to the duo of Sabonis and Myles Turner in Indiana . Not the best.
Sabonis needs a front row partner who spans the floor more than Ayton to be 100% effective. If Ayton were to come to the Kings, the best way to make it work would be without Sabonis. They should also have given up on choice number 4 and some resources like Harrison Barnes. A lot of things should happen just to replace a great skilled man the team already has faith in.
Harper also linked the Kings to a player they were often tied to early last season, Tobias Harris:
The Kings are also looking for a potential takeover with Grant from Detroit or Tobias Harris from Philadelphia. In fact, it looks like the Kings want to get involved with any commercial targets available at this point because they are so desperate to make something happen that puts them post-season.
For a team like the Kings looking to break through in the playoffs, adding a talented veteran like Harris could help. It would be an instant appetizer that bridges the lack of depth the Kings have on the wing. He can play three or four and provides plenty of attack with his ability to create for himself on multiple levels.
The main negatives: his age and the streaked game. Though Harris is only 29, he is out of his prime and has lost a step in recent years with his points per game dropping in three straight seasons. Although not by much, it is not a welcome sign. Along with him being better in the rear view mirror, he’s not the most consistent player on the pitch.
There are some games where he just looks helpless and can score at all three levels. And some games where it looks like he’s allergic to the basket. If he comes to Sacramento, they will rely on him to be one of their top three scoring options. He should be reliable and worth whatever they give up if he helps the Kings get over the hump.
Even with all the commercial rumors, not everyone believes that Sacramento should include choice no. 4 in any business. Sports Illustrated’s Jeremy Woo has a different opinion.
A lot of teams are chasing the number 4 choice of the Kings and Sacramento has certainly listened. But I’m not sure how some seem to be that the choice ultimately moves – looking around the league, it’s hard to identify the right kind of package that would ultimately cause the Kings to step out of their seat. The feeling I have is that Sacramento likes the draft and may not particularly want to go back, and it’s hard to see a combination of veterans and desirable draft positioning that looks tempting. If the Kings remain at number 4, Keegan Murray appears to be the more likely choice.
Woo thinks the Kings should just stick to their lottery luck and go with the most talented rookie coming into their pot of four. The players available at that spot are highly sought after for a reason. Their selection could prove to be a franchise-altering player and lead Sacramento to where they want to be.
Many of the NBA’s top analysts and minds are considering a four-handed draft this year. Those four are Jabari Smith Jr., Chet Holmgren, Paulo Banchero, and Jaden Ivey. While it sounds simple, this puts the Kings in a tough spot at number 4. They trust everyone’s opinion and just take Ivey. Do they go with the “safe” choice and take Keegan Murray? Or are they taking advantage of this opportunity to earn more resources and still have a lottery choice?