As if the fourth pick wasn’t exciting enough, exactly what the Sacramento Kings do with it has the chance to intensify that sensation tenfold.
James Ham reported this week that “there’s rumor there that the Kings have already made the move to number-two.”
Moving up to number-two, as is widely understood, would put Sacramento in a position to grab either Jabari Smith or Chet Holmgren, depending on who goes first. Whether they have a preference and are moving up with foreknowledge of who Orlando picks remains unknown. It could also be the case that they like both guys equally.
However, given the skill sets and readiness of the two tall, lanky prospects, it would almost seem plausible to believe the Kings are doing this to grab Smith specifically.
With his incredible ability to sink all sorts of jump shots, from different ranges and with various degrees of difficulty, plus his defensive activity and athleticism, Jabari Smith almost makes too much sense for the Kings. Holmgren does, too, in a lot of ways, but in terms of plugging right into the rotation—or even the starting five—of a team looking to compete, it seems only Smith provides that with believable levels of certainty, at least from the outside looking in.
Holmgren can definitely shoot in his own right and is probably considered the better specimen on on the defensive end with a truly dynamic ceiling, but there’s a “wait and see” element to him altogether. To say his body will need some development if he’s going to be an effective low post player in the NBA is probably an understatement. He’s undeniably tough, but chances are it will require a little more work for him to shine in this league.
Smith, on the other hand, has the ability to do that right away, especially with the ways he can score the basketball at 6’10”. He’s not the only prospect to bring that instant offensive impact with him, though.
Jaden Ivey is an explosive athlete with a ferocious downhill scoring attack. He’ll be a guy who can go into this league and score a significant amount per game as a rookie. Ivey, despite often being considered the fourth best prospect, is still likely in the top three of a few teams’ own draft boards. And it’s for these reasons that he is likely the key to this whole trading up rumor.
With the potential for a backcourt tandem of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Ivey, Oklahoma City stands to benefit from trading back two spots with virtually every mock draft and draft wizard pegging Paolo Banchero going third to Houston. Maybe they have Ivey in their top three. The Thunder would probably be more than content to walk away with Smith at number-two, but if the Kings can offer sufficient compensation, OKC would likely be ecstatic to fall back a bit and still get a prized prospect and the resulting guard duo.
What that additional compensation would look like—a player or players, a future draft pick or picks?—isn’t entirely clear. But what is?
Of course, this is all under the assumption Holmgren is going first, which is not a sure thing at this point, and may never be until draft night.
Even the Vegas odds will tell you that Smith has the highest likelihood of being picked first overall, but if the rumor Ham is referring to is true, then it could be that McNair and company, along with other executives around the league, must know Holmgren is going number-one to Orlando.
But who knows?
Making an ambitious move forward like that just seems to indicate that they will be doing so to snag Smith, who should be an immediate force for a team trying to snap a playoff drought, but they could see something special in Holmgren. Obviously, that can’t be ruled out.
As Brenden Nunes of the Kings Beat explained, maybe Sacramento sees him as a soon to be franchise-changer. Holmgren could be flashing that potential convincingly enough to make the Kings confident in him to a degree equal to that of Jabari Smith.
That’s the thing, though. Nobody outside the organization or the league could say for sure.
At the fourth position in the draft, Sacramento is in a lucrative position. There was always the very real chance the Kings could move up in the draft given the fortune of leapfrogging up and landing this pick. With Henry Abbott’s report a few days ago and with this rumor James Ham mentioned, the Kings have, at the very least, made some serious considerations to move up some more, if they haven’t already lined it all up and are merely waiting to pull the trigger.
Nevertheless, with a little under a month to go until draft night on June 23, there’s plenty more dark hallway to walk through and more things to be brought to light as a pivotal moment for this organization creeps closer.