Vivek Ranadivé's newest puppet personnel man, Philly fan favorite Vlade Divac (I cheered for him at the Lottery Party like most of the rest of the room, but I'm still unsure as to why) is a wildcard at the top of the draft. He's dabbled in the basketball operations world internationally, and he must be knowledgeable of NCAA prospects, because he's, of course, a key decision-maker for an NBA team.
That, combined with a lack of direction for the franchise in plain view, should indicate they could really do anything. But this is my pick (sort of), and under the strict orders of Vivek that I make a splash, I select Duke swingman Justise Winslow.
Not only does Winslow slide in seamlessly for them, within a wing rotation of Ben McLemore and Rudy Gay, but he's by most measures the most talented all-around player left on the board. For a team starved of talent across the board, he comes with too much two-way potential to pass up on.
Winslow boasts an NBA-level frame already - 6-foot-7, 222 lbs. - and he's an absolute bulldog on defense. The concept of college players being "NBA-ready" gets blown way out of proportion, but Winslow could stick NBA wings tomorrow if he had to. Every great team has a wing-stopper that can be tasked with guarding opponents' best players - your DeMarre Carrolls, Jimmy Butlers and Kawhi Leonards. Justise has that potential.
The freshman shot the ball at a 41.4 percent clip from deep last year. His release may be a tick too slow to translate immediately, but playing with a behemoth like DeMarcus Cousins could expedite that process. It certainly helped his case to have grown-ass man Jahlil Okafor bending the defense and commanding heaps of attention in the post last season, and Cousins' effect on floor spacing isn't much different in Sacramento. So he can stop ball on one end, and spot-up on the other.
He used his size to his advantage at Duke, and often bulldozed his way to the rim for easy buckets. It won't be nearly as elementary in the pros, but if he tightens up his handles he'll still be able to attack off-the-bounce with ease.
I strongly considered Willie Trill Cauley-Stein here. Few big men can both switch out on to guards in the pick-and-roll and get out and run the floor like he can, which could make him a great fit under George Karl. Plus, providing Cousins with some help protecting the rim would be optimal. But it also means playing Rudy Gay at the three, and the return of Rudy Gay: Perimeter Scorer is not something either party should promote.
Drafting for fit around Rudy Gay sounds ridiculous because it totally is. But he was just handed a three-year, $40 million extension, so he's clearly someone they view as part of their core going forward. Moving him back to the three would terrify me if I were running the show, and despite what I personally think of Gay as a building block (hint: not optimistic), the Kings seem to view him as such.
Kristaps Porzingis is also an intriguing option next to Cousins, for both floor-spacing purposes and potentially help protecting the rim. But the idea of Vivek standing by for 2-4 years while 'Staps builds up weight and develops is too hilariously far-fetched for me to bring to the table.
There are some initial concerns with the Winslow pick, namely overcrowding the wing rotation. But [insert point guard here], Winslow/McLemore/Stauskas, plus Gay and Cousins is a nice ball of clay for Karl to mold into the well-oiled up-tempo machine he engineered in Denver. That is, until he gets canned because one of his best players comes down with viral meningitis.
Up next is GM Sean O'Connor picking for Denver.
- Minnesota Timberwolves - Karl-Anthony Towns
- Los Angeles Lakers - Jahlil Okafor
- Philadelphia 76ers - D'Angelo Russell
- New York Knicks - Emmanuel Mudiay
- Orlando Magic - Mario Hezonja
- Sacramento Kings - Justise Winslow
- Denver Nuggets - ???