Who the Kings think is the No. 4 target

NBA Mock Draft: Expert predictions for Kings’ No. 4 pick originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

The 2022 NBA draft is quietly approaching, and the speculation is just beginning.

While there’s a lot of uncertainty looming as the big day looms, the Kings do know they’ll be picking the No. 4 overall pick in the draft after moving up three spots in the draft lottery.

But who will Sacramento bring in to help reshape the franchise and end a 16-year playoff drought under new head coach Mike Brown?

Here’s a breakdown of the league-wide mock drafts and what they think the Kings will do with their lucky No. 4 pick.

Jaden Ivey, G, Purdue University

In the eyes of many NBA teams, the draft starts here: Sacramento decides to either trade the pick to the team competing for Ivey, or keep it and buy it from what is expected to be played by Ivey, Benedict Mathurin and Keegan. Murray’s team picks, which will represent a key moment on Thursday night. Nearly every team in the lottery and beyond Sacramento has had exploratory conversations with the Kings, including Indiana (No. 6), Washington (No. 10), New York (No. 10), a source said. No. 11), Oklahoma City (No. 12), Atlanta (No. 16), and more.

Opponent teams say the asking price will be substantial, including mature veterans (Malcolm Brogdon, Kyle Kuzma, Jerami Grant, John Collins), 2022 draft picks and players like walkers rookie-contract players like Chris Duarte of the Cavaliers. Some options teams have looked into. Even if the Kings stay calm — currently considered the most likely scenario — Ivey could make sense here, even though Sacramento isn’t his preferred destination. He’s seen by many in the league as a top prospect due to his excellent long-term strength, physicality and shot-creation ability, giving him the kind of star power the Kings probably don’t want to pass on, though Ivey isn’t a match for De’Aaron Fox and Davion Mitchell et al. fit perfectly on paper.

Jaden Ivey, G, Purdue University

This is where the draft has the potential to get crazy. The Kings have drafted De’Aaron Fox, Tyrese Haliburton and Davene Mitchell in recent years, which might make you think they won’t be picking another point guard. However, I’m putting Ivey at #4 right now for several reasons. The most important reason is that this pick has been considered tradeable since the lottery as it was seen as a top four, Ivey might be available at No. 4, but the Kings are still loading up despite already Moved Haliburton, but Fox and Mitchell remained at the leading back. Since then, a number of reports have been made public, most notably ESPN’s report prior to Game 6 of the NBA Finals that most teams from Nos. 5 to 11 have reached out.

Honestly, if the Kings front office has been told by their owners that they need to make the playoffs next year, it would make sense that this pick would be there, and it would be logical that this pick would move before the draft. If so, I hope the target is Ivey. Even if that’s not the case, the Kings should pick the best players and then work out the roster tightness. That being said, the connection to Keegan Murray is real here, and if teams don’t get an offer they like, Murray is legitimate. Our Shams Charania pointed out earlier this week that the Kings have become more comfortable making choices here.

Jaden Ivey, G, Purdue University

Ivey is the No. 4 best prospect, but he replicates the De’Aaron Foxes and Dave En Mitchell that Sacramento already has. The Kings could be traded, and they are reportedly in talks with the Pistons, Pacers, Wizards and Knicks. If they decide to keep the pick, it could be an interesting backcourt full of speed, one highlight transition after another, and clever shots around the rim. Ivey brings a solid outside jumper that could add a lot of value to Sacramento. If the Kings are looking for size on the line, they can move down the draft and get a lot in return.

Keegan Murray, forward, Iowa State

There has been a healthy trade market for Sacramento’s No. 4 pick in recent days, and the Kings are in a fascinating position as the draft approaches. Having experienced talent boosts a team’s internal dynamics, and Jaden Ivey’s presumed availability — with the right level of development, he could be the best player in the draft — has attracted the league suitors in. If another team is willing to meet the asking price, which certainly seems high, the odds of the Kings making a move here and trading back are non-zero. If they keep the pick, opposing teams think they’re leaning toward Murray, who trains for them in Sacramento and is considered the owner’s favorite.

There’s a valid reason to pick Ivey despite concerns about overlapping skills in Ivey and De’Aaron Fox, but as far as I know, Ivey doesn’t play for Sacramento and seems happy to land elsewhere. Murray himself has a lot of upside, and he can differentiate between winning now and building for the future. He’s good at just about everything, and his improved playmaking and jumper will make him more dynamic. Teams like Murray’s earnest, no-nonsense approach, and he’s a perfect fit for a smaller market. His floor remains No. 6 in Indiana.

Jaden Ivey, G, Purdue University

The Kings are the crux of the draft, and multiple teams are asking questions about trading picks, likely with Jaden Ivey. Last year, Sacramento drafted Davene Mitchell in the lottery, and De’Aaron Fox averaged 28.9 points per game after the trade with Tyrese Haliburton. Mitchell’s performance wasn’t enough to stop Sacramento from switching to another guard, but people still believe in his long-term potential, so going with a different type of player would be ideal. If a strong proposition is on the table to acquire the asset and still draft a top prospect, a cut-price trade would be a smart decision. If the Kings stay put, Keegan Murray is a good candidate because he can thrive on Fox and Domantas Sabonis’ offense while defending multiple positions. But due to the possibility of a trade, Ivey got the nod today.

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