Kings mailbag: NBA draft, trade talk, Jaden Ivey sweepstakes

FILE - Purdue guard Jaden Ivey (23) drives to the basket next to Iowa forward Kris Murray (24) during the first half of an NCAA collegiate basketball game at the Big Ten tournament March 13, 2022 in Indianapolis.  Ivey is the headlining potential point guard in next week's NBA draft.  (AP Photo/Darron Cummings, file)

FILE – Purdue guard Jaden Ivey (23) drives to the basket next to Iowa forward Kris Murray (24) during the first half of an NCAA collegiate basketball game at the Big Ten tournament March 13, 2022 in Indianapolis. Ivey is the headlining potential point guard in next week’s NBA draft. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings, file)


The Kings are the subject of numerous trade rumors as anticipation grows for Thursday’s NBA draft.

Sacramento jumped three spots up the lottery to secure the No. 4 pick, giving general manager Monte McNair the hottest commodity in this year’s draft. With Auburn power forward Jabari Smith, Gonzaga center Chet Holmgren and Duke power forward Paolo Banchero expected to be the top three picks in the draft, teams are lining up to seize the opportunity to draft Purdue guard Jaden Ivey in 4th place.

The kings can keep the choice for themselves or trade it back to acquire additional assets. What do the Kings want from this year’s draft? What do you need? What you should do?

You have questions and we have answers in this NBA draft edition of the Kings mailbag.

Note: Some questions have been edited for length or clarity.

@MaddenDude_ asks: What are the top three needs of kings, not just position but the type of players in each position they would want?

The kings have identified their biggest needs as shooting, height/length and defense.

You must shoot to spread the ground for Fox and Sabonis, who need a decent distance to maximize their respective strengths. They need size, length and defense to keep opposing teams from chasing them out of the gym after finishing 27th in the NBA in defensive rating, 29th in opponent points per game (115.8) and 29th in rebound percentage (0.484).

Sacramento wants to build around Fox and Sabonis, neither of whom are known for their 3-point shooting or defense. The Kings must surround Fox and Sabonis with 3-and-D wings that can help them fix their shortcomings.

@dark_gone asks: Are the top 3 really that much better than #4? If someone in the top three “grabs” someone other than the three, who is most likely to jump?

The “Big Three” of Smith, Holmgren, and Banchero have been widely projected as the top 3 picks for quite some time, but I’ve been saying for weeks that this is actually a four-player draft.

The rest of the league seems to have jumped on this idea as Ivey is proving to be a top talent. Ivey, the most desirable guard in this year’s draft, could be destined for glory. Some of the scouts, executives, and agents I’ve spoken to have him in the top three. A senior league source ranks Holmgren and Ivey as the top two players in the draft.

Ivey, 20, is 6ft 4 and 200 pounds with tremendous athleticism and exceptional jumping ability. He’s a stunner around the rim and a capable 3-point shooter, although his ball handling, playmaking and midrange play still need work. He’s considered a combo guard who spent a lot of time operating the ball offside at Purdue, but many see him becoming more of a point guard as his game develops.

Shaedon Sharpe is another young guard who has star potential but with so many question marks surrounding him, Ivey will be the one to jump into the top three if Smith, Holmgren or Banchero fall.

@PAULGUGLIELMIN1 asks: Should Sacramento trade from 4th to 7th draft since Jaden Ivey doesn’t want the Kings to pick him? Why?

Absolutely not. There are reports that Sacramento isn’t Ivey’s “preferred destination,” let alone questions about his suitability for Fox, but the Kings shouldn’t trade back unless there’s a move that makes sense for them.

Ivey and Choice #4 are in high demand, so a deal like this could go through, but honestly, it doesn’t matter what Ivey wants. Asset management is an important part of running an NBA team. The Kings have made more than their fair share of mistakes in this department over the years. This time they can’t afford to do it again.

@sack_kings_daily asks: Who do you think the kings should, will, and intend to draft?

Should be drafted: Jaden Ivey unless one of the Big 3 drops in 4th place or they receive a trade offer they can’t refuse.

Convokes: Jaden Ivey unless one of the “Big 3” falls in 4th place or they receive a trade offer they can’t refuse.

Want to Draft: Smith and Holmgren are likely at the top of the Kings’ big board because of their talent, two-way versatility, and potential fit with Sabonis. Iowa forward Keegan Murray also needs to be high on their list given his talent, fitness and readiness.

@JbTochterman asksQ: Which team does Ivey want so badly that it trades for him when he’s 4th? And what would this team realistically offer the Kings?

Teams appear to be lining up to place Ivey in 4th place. We’ve already heard reports that the Detroit Pistons, Indiana Pacers, Portland Trail Blazers and Washington Wizards are trying to make a deal with the Kings. The New York Knicks, Oklahoma City Thunder, Atlanta Hawks and others could also try to get involved.

It’s hard to say which team Ivey wants the most without being privy to each team’s internal discussions, but the Pistons, for example, would likely have to offer the No. 5 along with Jerami Grant or Saddiq Bey and possibly some additional draft compensation. The Pacers would need to box the No. 6 with someone like Malcolm Brogdon or Myles Turner. The Blazers would have to offer the number 7 and someone like Josh Hart. The Wizards would have to give up the number 10 along with Kyle Kuzma and a young player like Rui Hachimura or Deni Avdija.

@bandz81 asks: What’s the best trade-back scenario for Sacramento?

The kings might be able to get the most value from pick #4 by trading back twice. For example, you could trade back from #4 to #5 to acquire Grant from the Pistons, and then trade back from #5 to #7 to get Hart from the Blazers.

In this scenario, Sacramento would add a shooting guard in Hart and a power forward in Grant. The Kings could then use the No. 7 to draft the best available player from a group that includes Murray, Sharpe, G League Ignite guard Dyson Daniels, Arizona guard Bennedict Mathurin, Duke small forward AJ Griffin and Baylor forward Jeremy Sochan could.

Jason Anderson is an award-winning sportswriter for The Sacramento Bee. He began his journalism career at The Bee more than 20 years ago and returned in September 2018 to cover the Sacramento Kings.

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