Kings jump to No. 4 in 2022 NBA Draft opens up plenty of options

Love it or list it? Kings have options after lottery leap

James Ham
May 18, 2022

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Domantas Sabonis’ smile said it all. 

Sacramento’s star big man represented the franchise at the 2022 NBA Draft Lottery on Tuesday night and delivered a huge win for the Kings. 

Moving from No. 7 overall to No. 4 may not sound like the victory of the century, but for a team like the Kings who need as much talent as they can possibly get their hands on, it opens the door for so many things.

General manager Monte McNair is now armed with an incredibly valuable asset. How he chooses to use this pick could determine how quickly the franchise snaps their current 16-year playoff drought.

Pick 4 in a 3 man draft

For the last couple of months, the 2022 NBA Draft has been considered a three man draft at the top with big men Chet Holmgren, Jabari Smith Jr. and Paolo Banchero expected to go in some combination. That may hold true on June 23, but there is still plenty that can happen in the next five weeks.

Sacramento will have options, even if the trio of power forwards are off the board. They can bolster their backcourt with an exciting player like Jaden Ivey. They can take the ultimate gamble on potential in high flier Shaedon Sharpe. They can dig deep into prospects like AJ Griffin, Bennedict Mathurin, Keegan Murray and Dyson Daniels.

The point is that the draft rarely goes as planned, even in the top five. Take last year’s draft for example. Cade Cunningham was always going to be the No. 1 overall pick, but during the draft process, Jalen Green found a way to unseat Evan Mobley for No. 2. 

In addition, Scottie Barnes climbed over Jalen Suggs to go No. 4 overall and Australia’s Josh Giddey was a stunning selection at No. 6, when he was slated to go anywhere from No. 10 to No. 17, depending on which draft board you were looking at. 

A four man draft was turned on its head. That same thing could happen this season, especially when there isn’t even a consensus on who will go No. 1 overall. 

Power Position

Sitting at No. 4 may be the sweet spot in this year’s draft. The Kings can wait patiently and see who lands in their lap. From there, the phone lines are open.

They can roll the dice on Ivey or Sharpe. They can see if Holmgren, Smith Jr. or Banchero slips. They can start working the phones to see if moving down one or two spots makes sense or if there is a perfect deal to trade out completely.

The three teams ahead of the Kings are all in rebuild mode and looking for young players. Sacramento is likely the first team that is willing to discuss a trade. 

There will be teams that fall in love with a player and want to move up to where the Kings are selecting. There will be other teams that want to stop that from happening and might be willing to jump even a spot or two. This opens the door for McNair to leverage the pick, if that is the path that makes the most sense.

Would Detroit, who currently sits at No. 5, be willing to give up one of their forwards in Saddiq Bey or Jeremi Grant, if it means landing the perfect player to go with Cunningham?

Would Indiana, Portland, New Orleans or San Antonio offer up future draft capital to jump up the board? 

Would Washington consider moving Kyle Kuzma and the No. 10 pick for No. 4 if they decide to hit the reset button? 

These are all options that opened up over the last 24 hours when the Kings jumped up the board.

Love it, or list it

If the Kings truly want to hit the nitro button on their build, trading the pick might be the way to go. This is where moving up from No. 7 to No. 4 might have the most value.

A top seven pick can yield plenty on the open market. It should be worth at least one starting level player via trade and perhaps a plus starter in the right situation. A top four pick can get you a lot more.

Depending on who is available on the trade market, Sacramento should be looking for an All-Star level player in return or at least a young player with All-Star potential. A day ago, they may have had to include a future first round selection as well, but the jump up the board may have changed that. 

If the Kings do decide to shop this pick, as expected, the talent pool for a potential return just increased dramatically. They would be trading an unknown commodity that might have higher upside for a player with an established track record. That usually equates to more wins, at least in the short term. 

This plan of attack also has a tremendous amount of risk. The Kings already know what it feels like to pass on a generational talent. There likely isn’t a player like Luka Doncic in this draft, even at No. 1, but there is always a risk of taking a short-sighted approach in team building. 

Early prediction

McNair and the Kings are open for business. They just landed a tremendous asset and they need to maximize its value. That could mean selecting a player with tremendous upside, but it’s more likely, at least early on in the process, that the Kings move this pick for a veteran player wh can help turn the franchise around now. 

That could mean that McNair trades down a spot or two and adds another rotational player. It could mean that they move down multiple times, adding multiple assets along the way. Even a move from No. 4 back to No. 6-8 could bring in an established player and allow the team to still add a prospect.

An early prediction is that the Kings find a deal that works for a near All-Star level player that both fits the age arc of De’Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis, and is under contract/team control long term. 

That is a lot to ask for, but the No. 4 pick has an incredible amount of value in the league. It could come back to bite the team later, but at some point, it has to be about winning games. 

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