It was unfamiliar territory last week for many Kings fans. They simply had nothing at stake as the lottery order was decided for next month’s draft.
Sacramento will have their first chance to make a selection on June 22 with the 24th pick.
GM Monte McNair will likely approach this draft with the same philosophy he’s used the last three times: take who he views as the best player available.
It’s worked out so far in round one. Everyone knows Tyrese Haliburton’s talent and how it landed the Kings Domantas Sabonis. The elite defense of Davion Mitchell is no joke. And there is not just a hope, but an expectation that the sky is the limit for Keegan Murray.
So who might come next? Here are five potential names after the combine finished up this past weekend in Chicago.
Kris Murray 6’8″, 213 lb. Iowa SF/PF – Junior, Age 23
Kris Murray scored 20.2 points per game as a starter for the Hawkeyes and has proven to be able to score from all three levels. At the rim, he converted an impressive 66.1% of his attempts. He also has an underrated mid-range and is touted for his three-point shooting upside with his smooth stroke.
Though his brother has been described as a more fluid athlete and as being physical around the basket, this Murray displayed growth at finishing through contact with his already-soft touch as well as getting to the line, nearly doubling his free throw attempt rate.
He’s not a carbon copy of last year’s fourth overall pick, but it’s no surprise their work ethics and basketball IQ’s are on the same level. It’s visible in the patience he exhibits both with and without the ball.
Furthermore, Kris Murray is an earnest rebounder, grabbing 7.9 per game and 2.8 on the offensive glass. And along with his shooting upside is his defensive upside due to his length, instincts, and versatility; for what it’s worth, he averaged 1.0 steals and 1.2 blocks per contest.
But he’s projected as a late first-rounder for a few reasons.
For one, he’s 23, which is not the sign of a high ceiling in the eyes of NBA executives.
More pertinent, however, is his streakiness as a shooter. He only shot 33.5% from deep this season after shooting 38.7% the year prior, and the inconsistency with a bigger role revealed itself at various stretches. Plus, he does not do much in the way of creating looks off the dribble, which is not aided by his slow first step.
In all, though, he could be a nice bench piece if available, and more than “a good story,” it might benefit both Murray’s if the brothers were reunited after playing their first ever season on different teams.
Brice Sensabaugh 6’5″, 235 lb. Ohio State SF – Freshman, Age 19
Often projected to be off the board a few picks ahead of the Kings’ spot, Brice Sensabaugh would be a steal at pick number-24.
Sensabaugh is one of the best shooters in this draft. He shot 40.5% from three-point range on 4.5 attempts per game, and he hit 45.8% of his catch and shoot attempts. His confidence makes him a fearless shooter while his consistent and sound form back it up. Plus, he’s just as great in the mid-range as a pull-up threat regardless of how tight the defense is.
Physically, he appears NBA ready. He’s already got a big frame and strength, which helps him on his drives, especially when guarded tightly or moving through traffic. That power–as well as his ability to go right or left–played a big role in his 16.3 points per game, which led the Buckeyes.
Those physical advantages can also help on defense. He can battle against bigger offensive players down low and effectively use his chest on the perimeter.
However, he hasn’t pieced it together on that end as his defense is clearly his biggest weakness. In a nutshell, he’s not always getting that chest on guys, allowing blow-by’s because, as one described, “he doesn’t work very hard on defense.” Additionally, he lacks some lateral quickness and Adam Spinella pointed out that Sensabaugh is often involved in miscommunications on that side of the ball.
Also, while he hits tough shots on offense, that skill can also be his worst enemy in regards to shot selection and big picture awareness.
Still, his mix of strength and shooting touch would make Sensabaugh a sensible pick if available.
Leonard Miller 6’10”, 213 lb. G League Ignite SF/PF – Age 19
Another guy that may be off the board is Leonard Miller, but his high ceiling may hold significant appeal in the eyes of Sac’s front office if available, especially after showing a ton of growth compared to a year ago when he was flirting with a draft declaration.
Miller is another good finisher, converting 66.2% of his looks at the rim this past season for the G League Ignite. His athleticism makes him an effective cutter, and paired with his height, he is a worthy rim runner. Similarly, he can be a solid dump-off target and roll man.
He plays with energy and effort as seen in his apparent inclination to grab a rebound and dribble the other way himself. That allows him to exhibit the finishing, but it also creates the most ripe opportunities for him to facilitate.
Therein lies another strength: his ball handling in spite of his height. He’s not elite, but he’s comfortable with the ball in his hands, possessing some guard-like traits in that regard, especially when going to his left, his dominant hand. That characteristic can come in handy as it can create disadvantages for many bigger defenders.
With his length and athleticism, the defensive upside could be immense both on-ball against wings and in the low post. At this point, however, it’s still an area of improvement overall. Really, it’s about consistency more than anything else as the flashes were abounding this season.
Similar to that, his ball handling needs work despite showing some good things in that department. He is susceptible to turnovers when going with his right.
But easily the biggest knock on his game is his shooting. Miller may honestly have one of the ugliest jump shots in the draft, having an incongruous and awkward motion. He shot just 32.7% from three on 2.2 attempts per game.
There’s a reason he’s been described as a high risk, high reward prospect, but if he’s still there and the Kings see more reward than risk, then he wouldn’t be a bad project.
Maxwell Lewis 6’7″, 207 lb. Pepperdine SF – Sophomore, Age 20
Maxwell Lewis is tough for some to figure out because he had a great season yet Pepperdine had a horrible record (9-23), but he could be a great fit for the Kings.
The best tool for Lewis is his ability to get to the rim and score in one-on-one situations. He can craftily drive to the basket against good defenders because of his combination of size, finishing skill with either hand, and ball handling.
But as it pertains to an early role in the NBA, it’s his catch and shoot ability that stands out the most. Lewis only shot 34.8% from three on 4.3 attempts, but in catch and shoot opportunities, he posted a 43.1% clip. He is especially lethal from the corners and takes advantage of space off of dribble handoffs, which would dovetail nicely with Sacramento’s offense.
He’s also a great athlete who is able to play above the rim at times and who has good length with a 6’10” wingspan. While not known for his defense, those are the kinds of tools that can help a player succeed on that side of the ball, but his consistency there needs improvement and coaching.
With all the offensive talent, his shot selection must have driven his head coach crazy because he tended to take a difficult shot when higher-percentage looks were there for the taking.
Overall, his awareness could use some help.
Nevertheless, if available, Maxwell Lewis could fit in well. Plus, he could be the third Pepperdine Wave connected that’s part of the Kings with assistant coach Doug Christie and forward Kessler Edwards both having played college ball there.
Bilal Coulibaly 6’7″, 190 lb. Metropolitans 92 (France) SF – Age 18
The closest thing the Kings can get to snagging Victor Wembanyama is drafting his teammate. That is, if he does not pull out of the draft by the end of the month.
France’s Bilal Coulibaly stands out to most because of his athletic traits. He possesses a 7’2″ wingspan on top of incredible leaping ability. The youngster also runs in open space with agile speed.
Defensively, he has all the weapons to develop into a great tool on that end in the NBA. Already, he pesters opponents, playing with the right kind of attitude.
Offensively, he tries to get down hill, often utilizing effective deceleration and a knack for finishing through contact. He’s also got decent ball handling skills thus far in his basketball journey.
However, he needs considerable time before he’s anywhere close to being a finished product. He could still improve his ball handling and fill out his frame. On both ends, he struggles against more physical opponents.
Plus, he needs a lot of work on his three-point shooting. Coulibaly shot just above 35% from deep on about 1 attempt per game, and thus has some capacity to hit them, but further progress there is necessary before that becomes a component of his game.
While most agree he’s far off from being able to make an impact at the highest level, Bilal Coulibaly has a lot of two-way promise that could prove to be a great asset to either develop or potentially use in a future trade. Again, it’ll be interesting to see if he withdraws before the 31st or not, but ESPN had him going at number-22 to Brooklyn.