Prospects the Kings May Select: Part Three

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - MAY 17: Rayan Rupert speaks with the media during the NBA Draft Combine at the Wintrust Arena on May 17, 2023 in Chicago, Illinois. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

Moving on with our list of potential options for Kings in June’s draft, here is part three. (Part One is available here, and Part Two here.)

Keep in mind that the Kings also have two opportunities to make a pick in the second round, including pick 38, and as we move down the line, some of the prospects verging closer to second round talent might be more viable in that position. Nonetheless, they’re all potential selections. 

Rayan Rupert 6’7″, 193 lbs. New Zealand Breakers (by way of France) – SF, Age 19

Often listed as having a 7’3″ wingspan, Rayan Rupert measured in with a 7’2″ wingspan at the combine, which is still one of the more exciting physical profiles. 

It shines on defense, which will be the end of the floor he projects to impact the most. There, Rupert shows off his activity and quickness just as much as his length. He moves incredibly well as an on-ball defender, giving him the prospect of being a weapon to use against the opposition’s point of attack. Utilizing his disruptive presence, he’s frequently picking pockets and blocking his man’s shots. His defense alone earned him a starting spot on the team that made it to the NBL Finals in Australia.

On offense, he has upside as a playmaker. Rupert has good ball-handling as he’s able to combine his athleticism with a knack for keeping the ball low and out of reach. In the open floor, he’s aggressive, often getting his long strides working to either show off his nice passing or his decent touch on runners. 

Rupert can also finish with either hand. According to Jonathan Givony, he broke his right wrist and missed two months, but upon returning, it was clear he’d used that time to enhance the use of his left hand.

He thrives in a quick pace and tempo, not only as an athlete that can speed up and slow down when necessary, but also as a quick processor.

There is still a lot of work needed on the offensive end. Rupert’s defense got him a starting role, but his poor three-point shooting forced him off the floor in the Finals. The opposition dared him to shoot, which paid off for them. He shot just 23.4% from three and 26.9% on catch-and-shoot attempts this season. He has a high release point, but he’s clearly still growing into his body and his shooting form needs a lot of coaching as he utilizes a lot of wasted movement.

Plus, he needs to find ways to be more of a threat in one-on-one situations, a large portion of which can be solved if he worked on finishing. He relies on runners and floaters while trying to avoid having to fight through contact.

But still, the soon-to-be 19 year-old’s physical profile and baseline of defense could make him a hell of an asset sooner than later.

Sidy Cissoko 6’6″, 224 lbs. G League Ignite (by way of France) – SF, Age 19

Sidy Cissoko is another high-motor player out of France with tremendous defensive upside.

With an excellent ability to move his feet as an on-ball defender, he combines it with a strong and powerful frame. Cissoko weighed in at 224 lbs. at the combine, which paints him as a guy that will guard most, if not all, positions on the floor. More than being able to absorb the contact from bigger players, he also applies his physicality while sliding his feet swiftly against perimeter guys. Overall, he stays big (that is, he stays low and wide) while defending and goes vertical when needed.

His 6’10” wingspan is pretty good, but it’s made all the more useful by his activity, which causes disruptions as he records a decent amount of blocks in on-ball situations. 

With excellent instincts on that end, he’s not just an on-ball threat. He already possesses an excellent understanding of weak side defense, making quick and decisive rotations.

Having held duties as a guard while formerly playing in Spain, Cissoko has some ball handling capabilities relative to his size. That’s a huge key for such an athletic and strong player, allowing him to maximize those assets to get downhill and score with either hand at the rim, where he converted about 60% of his looks and where he earns many free throw attempts. Also, it allows him to thrive in up-tempo, full court play, where he’s aggressive as well as able to facilitate.

Apparently, Ignite commentators would often refer to him as the team’s best passer, which would indicate he has a slight edge over Scoot Henderson, the likely number-two overall pick. The veracity of that is not clear, but Cissoko is a great passer out of the pick-and-roll and from the pocket.

His jump shooting is coming along as his form smooths out. He hit 33.1% of his catch-and-shoot three’s, but has shown some glimpses of great efficiency in that situation. That shooting consistency has to be vastly improved to maximize his abilities at the NBA level. Overall, he shot 30.4% from three this past season and had ugly stretches, such as to end the season where he went 3 of 26 from deep in his final nine games.

And he especially struggles to shoot off the dribble, including in the mid-range, which plays into his considerable limitations as a threat in one-on-one scenarios. His lack of an explosive first step also inhibits him.

For as good as his defense is, he does get into foul trouble, averaging over 3 per game and 4.2 per 36 minutes. Physicality can be a huge asset, but there is a fine line between being disruptive and putting refs in a position to blow the whistle. He also needs to improve his poise and maturity because, as Adam Spinella notes, he is frequently “involved in too many extracurriculars.”

Colby Jones 6’5″, 199 lbs. Xavier SG – Junior, Age 21

Out of Xavier, Colby Jones has lots of defensive and playmaking upside as well.

He has a lot of tools that make him an admirable on-ball defender: he’s got quick feet, a nice sense of activity, and displays strong instincts. Jones has mobility, decent length (6’8″ wingspan), and solid strength, setting him up to be a plus perimeter defender able to guard the 1 through the 3.

The urgency he demonstrates on that end surfaces in his ability to navigate through and over screens. He’s relentless and sharp in terms of chasing guys and getting up an effective contest.

Offensively, Jones stands out as a fairly savvy playmaker, namely off of screens. His overall IQ is good and that lends a lot to him making the right play and/or pass as a secondary ball handler. Similarly, the guard processes things well, able to make quick reads and hurt defenses in transition.

In all, his sense of half court pace appears strong. Jones tries to go downhill; again, with the help of picks. Going to his right, he’s been effective, showing exemplary touch on his runners and floaters, which is a big factor in his 62.2% clip at the rim. Also, he is terrific coming off of dribble handoffs to attack or, more likely, hit a teammate.

He shot 37.8% from three this last season and he has potential to be a catch-and-shoot option with his smooth mechanics in those scenarios. On all catch-and-shoot attempts, he converted them at a 42.5% clip.

But he needs work being able to create anything on his own. Jones is nullified in one-on-one situations where he doesn’t receive a screen. It hurts him that he has a weak pull-up game, hitting those jumpers at just a 27.1% rate, and without that, he won’t have the ball in his hands much, which thus prevents him from showing off his playmaking upside. Also, he struggles to score at the rim, proving to be one-dimensional in that he only succeeds with floaters and predictably goes right.

Plus, his defensive urgency is prone to wane at times. Lots of scouts project that he’ll have to be more consistent on that end because it will be the main thing that gets him on the floor.

Andre Jackson Jr. 6’6″, 198 lbs. UConn SG – Junior, Age 21

Fresh off an NCAA title with the Huskies, Andre Jackson Jr. is…wait for it…another athletic prospect with defensive and playmaking upside.

As one of the best defenders in college basketball, his work on that end significantly contributed to his team’s successful run. His athleticism and length (6’10” wingspan) make him an excellent on-ball defender, and he projects to be able to guard the 1 through the 4. 

Also, he exhibits outstanding reaction time and instincts that aid his off-ball and help defense. Yet he remains disciplined, rarely getting caught in the air by his man and often remaining vertical with high hands. Plus, he has some solid strength despite his wiry looking frame.

He’s an asset in transition because he has such great bounce and can throw down lobs, but more than anything, his playmaking shines in such a fast-paced situation. Overall, he was UConn’s primary playmaker for a reason, averaging 4.7 assists (6.8 in this year’s tournament) and demonstrating exceptional feel, court vision, and processing speed. 

But he has a ton of holes on the offensive end.

With horrid mechanics and an inability to sink wide open looks, he clearly needs to work on his shooting, something he knows. Jackson hit only 28.1% of his three’s and just 25.8% of all catch-and-shoot looks. Defenses would just sag off him and he could not hurt them with a jump shot. Though he managed to bypass this with some schematic tricks to help generate creation opportunities, he has a serious lack of a jumper that is far more difficult to make up for at the highest level.

Without a shot, defenses can inhibit his playmaking because they can go under screens. And it hurts more that he doesn’t possess other weapons like hitting mid-range pull-up’s or converting floaters. 

Andre Jackson has some exceptional tools, but he is considerably deficient when it comes to offense, which can obscure and wipe out his strengths.

Trayce Jackson-Davis 6’9″, 240 lbs. Indiana PF/C – Senior, Age 23

Sticking with athleticism, upside on defense, and some playmaking, Trayce Jackson-Davis is a big that brings those tools to the table.

His athleticism jumps out with his incredible leaping ability and the way he runs the floor. He can go way up high to throw down lobs with his 7’1″ wingspan helping his catch radius. Plus, he’s often getting put-backs on his own misses due to his ability to get back in the air quickly.

It obviously contributes to his excellent defense, which is his best strength. He’s not only mobile and long, he has excellent awareness and timing that make for some great rotations. Throughout his college career, he’s made noticeable improvements in discipline as it pertains to staying vertical, and his shot-blocking comes more from instinctual help, recovery speed, and reach more than anything else. Another big thing is his pick-and-roll defense, where he was adequate both at the level and in drop coverages. 

It’s not outstanding, but he has upside as a big who’s able to switch. Spinella points out that he did a great job against bigger wings, like Kris Murray, and a decent job against smaller guards.

TJD is also a great playmaker. For one, he loves to grab a rebound and push it himself in transition, where he finds teammates that hustled with him, often with kick out’s to shooters. He averaged 4.0 assists per game with his ability to pass from the top of the key, and he proved significantly skilled at passing out of the short roll, so defenses had to consider that when looking to trap primary ball handlers.

He can also dribble pretty well for his size and is quicker than larger big’s, so he’s able to get by some and score at the rim. It helps that he exhibits nice body control as he attempts a lot of reverse layups and employs a fairly high volume of patient spin moves.

But through four years at Indiana, he never really developed the use of his right hand, often trying to bend over backwards, as it were, to get a shot up with his left.

Worse, his jump shooting ability is actually worse than his right hand. Jackson-Davis hit just 3 of 14 jump shots throughout his final season as a Hoosier. His shot mechanics are effectively a set of tangled wires and he seems to know better than anyone that he struggles because his confidence in that regard is low.

No jump shot will significantly hinder his ability to bring a fair amount of his offensive assets to the NBA, and being 23 does not lend a ton of hope regarding shooting development. Still, his defense, athleticism, and playmaking give him worthy upside considering he’s a big, and it’s important to note that Jackson-Davis displayed great enthusiasm and leadership for Mike Woodson’s Indiana squad.

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Dan Smith
3 months ago

Thanks as always for delivering the awesome content, much appreciated it!