The Sacramento Kings are known for making some questionable decisions under pressure when it comes to the draft. 2021 is no different. The Kings selected Baylor point guard Davion Mitchell with the ninth overall pick, just one year removed from Tyrese Haliburton. This selection points to a lack of faith in star guard De’Aaron Fox from the outside looking in. With rumors swirling that Fox could be on the trade block. But to all extensive purposes, it appears the Kings are still ‘all in’ on De’Aaron Fox.
Fox is coming off the back of his best season as a professional. Having averaged 25 points & 7 assists in 58 games, the Kings finished two games short of a place in the play-in tournament. The 23-year-old agreed to a five-year, $163 million extension back in November, which will begin next season. But will he be playing as part of a three-point guard approach?
The Kings draft decisions since Fox
In 2018, Sacramento selected big man Marvin Bagley III over Luka Doncic because they had apparently seen enough from De’Aaron Fox in his rookie season to make them believe he was worth building a team around. In hindsight, this was the wrong decision and played a key role in former GM Vlade Divac’s departure in 2020. Current GM Monte McNair took over in September 2020 and has clearly looked to move the franchise in another direction with his draft selections. With the old front office passing on Luka Donic because of De’Aaron Fox, the new-look Kings have been built with guards around Fox.
The Sacramento Kings had the worst defense in the league last season, and Davion Mitchell’s ability on that end was the chief selling point for the Kings. Mitchell stands at just 6 foot 2, but his defense of 6 foot 8 no.1 overall pick Cade Cunningham last year when Baylor faced Oklahoma State convinced the Kings that he was more than capable of guarding up. He is not a replacement for Fox but will add a much-needed dimension to the Kings’ backcourt.
So can a three-guard lineup work? Monte McNair has seen it work himself, having worked under Daryl Morey during the Houston Rockets’ recent title pushes. In which they often showcased a lineup that included James Harden, Eric Gordon & Chris Paul. In 2019/20, the trio of Paul, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and Dennis Schroder in Oklahoma City was the league’s best three-person lineup.
Yes, it helps to have a future Hall of Famer when putting out a three-guard lineup. But the Kings at least appear to have a vision and, if nothing else. They will be a fun team to watch next season. When’s the last time we could say that.