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7 Biggest Draft Mistakes In Sacramento Kings History: They Didn't Believe In Luka Doncic, Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson And Damian Lillard

7 Biggest Draft Mistakes In Sacramento Kings History: They Didn't Believe In Luka Doncic, Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson And Damian Lillard

The NBA Draft is a period of optimism for NBA teams, especially those with their entire future lying in the hands of upcoming college players. The Sacramento Kings have not been a contender for a very long time, and since the Chris Webber days ended, the franchise have not had much success on or off the court. While the roster has some talented young players including De’Aaron Fox and Tyrese Haliburton, the rest of the depth chart is very questionable.

The state of the franchise could come down to the poor draft decisions made over the past decade. Some of the choices the Kings made were not based on any particular rationale, as they just seemed to take shots in the dark on which players could be their future. Instead of going for physically capable players who had shown some skill in college, they simply drafted guys who fit a particular image of what they thought they needed. Here are the 7 worst draft mistakes in Sacramento Kings history.


7. 2017 NBA Draft

Zach Collins (No. 10 Pick) over Donovan Mitchell (No. 13 Pick)

Zach Collins (No. 10 Pick) over Donovan Mitchell (No. 13 Pick)

The 2017 Draft had some talented players including Jayson Tatum and Lonzo Ball, but the Kings passed on a gem in Donovan Mitchell. The Kings already selected De’Aaron Fox with the No. 5 pick, which was a solid choice considering they needed a point guard for the future. But the franchise also had the No. 10 pick, and a chance to take Donovan Mitchell, future All-Star guard to pair with Fox.

Instead, the Kings selected Zach Collins, a 6’11” big man with limited offensive capabilities. Clearly, that was the wrong choice because Collins did not play a single game for the Kings before playing 3 seasons with Portland. The last time Collins played a game was during the 2020 season, as he continues to battle injuries. Sacramento could have had a dynamic duo with Mitchell and Fox, but they now have to wait for the upcoming drafts to find a new All-Star guard.


6. 2014 NBA Draft

Nik Stauskas (No. 8 Pick) over Zach LaVine (No. 13 Pick)

Nik Stauskas (No. 8 Pick) over Zach LaVine (No. 13 Pick)

The Nik Stauskas draft choice was a travesty because a much more athletic guard in Zach LaVine was available. Stauskas only played one season with the Kings, putting up 4.4 PPG in his rookie year before bouncing 5 different teams over the next few years. This season, the shooting guard appeared in only two games for the Miami Heat for the first time on the court since the 2019 season.

Of course, LaVine has become a bonafide All-Star and one of the best scorers in the league. The athletic guard is not only a high-flyer but an extremely skilled scorer who has shown the ability to take over games. The Kings have been searching for another All-Star to pair with a very good De’Aaron Fox, and LaVine would have been perfect in every way for the franchise. It took a while before LaVine became an All-Star as a member of the Bulls, but the Kings had nothing to lose as they would have focused on the development of their young core. Unfortunately, the Kings would have a few worse draft decisions to remember.


5. 2018 NBA Draft

Marvin Bagley III (No. 2 Pick) over Luka Doncic (No. 3 Pick)

Marvin Bagley III (No. 2 Pick) over Luka Doncic (No. 3 Pick)

Marvin Bagley III at a glance had incredible potential, and he probably still does. An athletic 6’11” power forward with a raw game, Bagley was supposed to be a decent option with the No. 2 overall pick. But everybody and their father knew that Luka Doncic was the best player in the draft, but Sacramento seemed to not listen. After all, Bagley was a more “attractive” option as a high-flying athlete with size and flash.

Clearly, that was the wrong choice. Luka was going to go No. 1 before Atlanta wanted more flash with Trae Young, and there was no way the Slovenian should have dropped to No. 3. But the Kings passed on a 19-year-old international phenom because he was simply not an exciting figure from a physical point of view. A few years later, Luka is one of the best players in the world putting up 26.0 PPG, 8.8 RPG, and 8.9 APG while Bagley is on the trading block.


4. 2012 NBA Draft

Thomas Robinson (No. 5 Pick) over Damian Lillard (No. 6 Pick)

Thomas Robinson (No. 5 Pick) over Damian Lillard (No. 6 Pick)

Sacramento were impatient in 2012 because they once again went for physical presence over skills. Thomas Robinson looked impressive visually because he was a 6’10” big man with above-average leaping ability. A raw athlete from Kansas University, the Kings thought they had their center for the future in their hands. Unfortunately, Robinson did not reach that level because he only lasted 51 games with the Kings before moving on.

Meanwhile, Damian Lillard went No. 6. Even if Lillard is a point guard by label, he is good enough to play shooting guard and share ball-handling duties with another guard. An elite scorer and one of the NBA 75th Anniversary Team members, Dame has taken the league by storm as a 6-time All-Star and 6-time All-NBA performer. Lillard won Rookie of the Year in 2012, putting up 19.0 PPG and 6.5 APG. Since his rookie year, Lillard has averaged over 20 PPG for 9 straight seasons. Kings fans will be hitting themselves for missing out on an elite scorer like Lillard because they are searching for one until this day.


3. 2013 NBA Draft

Ben McLemore (No. 7 Pick) over Giannis Antetokounmpo (No. 15 Pick)

Ben McLemore (No. 7 Pick) over Giannis Antetokounmpo (No. 15 Pick)

Ben McLemore looked promising in college because he showcased athleticism and scoring ability as a young player. Appearing in all 82 games during his rookie season and starting 55 times, McLemore averaged 8.8 PPG. The shooting guard never kicked off his career with the Kings, despite taking his total to 12.1 PPG in his second year.

This draft decision completely altered Sacramento’s history because they had a chance to take Giannis Antetokounmpo. Already a 2-time MVP and NBA champion, Giannis would have taken Sacramento to a different level as a franchise as he did with the Milwaukee Bucks. There is no doubt that Giannis would have created a playoff contender in Sacramento because his all-around stardom makes other players around him better. Instead of drafting a generational player, the Kings selected a role player who would not move the needle at all.


2. 2011 NBA Draft

Bismack Biyombo (No. 7 Pick) over Klay Thompson (No. 11 Pick)

Bismack Biyombo (No. 7 Pick) over Klay Thompson (No. 15 Pick)

In 2011, Sacramento missed out on the opportunity to draft a future 3-time NBA champion in Klay Thompson. Kyrie Irving was considered the best player in the draft and was correctly selected No. 1 for many, but a shooting guard went under the radar. Just a few days ago, Klay Thompson called out the Kings for passing him up in the 2011 NBA Draft.

Bismack Biyombo is not a bad player by any means, but he certainly does not move the needle for a franchise looking for a star. The 6’8” big man had excellent shot-blocking abilities, but scoring or playing heavy minutes is not something he does well. Other than the 13 games played this year, Biyombo has yet to average at least 10 PPG in a season. Of course, Klay Thompson has proven his worth as one of the best two-way players in the league and certainly the top-5 greatest shooter of all time. 


1. 2009 NBA Draft

Tyreke Evans (No. 4 Pick) over Stephen Curry (No. 7 Pick)

Tyreke Evans (No. 4 Pick) over Stephen Curry (No. 7 Pick)

At the time, taking Tyreke Evans with the No. 4 pick was considered a good move by the Kings. The 20-year-old guard was extremely versatile, putting up 20.1 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 5.8 APG, and 1.5 SPG for the Kings in his rookie season. Evans is one of five rookies to average 20-5-5 in NBA history. The others? LeBron James, Luka Doncic, Oscar Robertson, and Michael Jordan. Sacramento thought they were onto something, but Evans could never maintain that level of play as he would leave the franchise after 4 years.

Of course, Stephen Curry went No. 7 and the rest is history. The point guard completely changed the game and has become Mr. Warrior due to his longevity and dominance with Golden State. Curry would have completely changed the outlook of the Kings and given them a go-to star for the future. It took 5 years before Steph become an All-Star and eventually a superstar, but he greatly usurped what Evans did on the court. Three championships and 2 MVPs later, Kings fans are left wondering what could have been. Out of all the bad decisions the Sacramento Kings made over their history, missing out on Stephen Curry when they had a top-5 pick will haunt them forever. 

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