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Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
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Wednesday / August 23.
  • Sacramento Kings Add Winning DNA With Four Draft Picks

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    By SEAN BOCK

    De’Aaron Fox was an All-SEC First Team player at Kentucky

    Justin Jackson was the ACC Player of the Year and won an NCAA championship at North Carolina.

    Duke’s Harry Giles was once projected as the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft — and has won three gold medals with USA Basketball. Three.

    Frank Mason was the consensus National Player of the Year at Kansas.

    Now all four players are teammates on the Sacramento Kings.

    Duke and Carolina guys. Kansas and Kentucky guys.

    Teammates.

    Kentucky, North Carolina, Duke, and Kansas are the four winningest programs in college basketball and have combined for four national championships this decade.

    Throughout Draft night, much of the talk centered on Jimmy Butler, Markelle Fultz and Lonzo Ball. But behind the scenes and via a trade with the Portland Trail Blazers, the Kings were quietly putting together one of their better drafts in recent memory.

    Arguably the biggest gamble of the evening’s festivities was the Kings trading the No. 10 pick to Portland for the Nos. 15 and 20 picks. After selecting Fox at No. 5 and then Jackson at 15, they rolled the dice and selected the 6-foot-10 Giles at 20.

    “Now it could work out, Harry Giles is a top-5 talent and a couple of years ago was projected as the No. 1 overall pick,” ESPN’s Jay Bilas said on air. “So if he’s healthy, maybe it winds up being a great thing for Sacramento,”

    Having not made the playoffs since 2005-06, and coming off a 32-50 season, the Kings were looking for a solid young core of high-character guys to turn their fortunes.

    “I just love the fact that it’s like this post-apocalyptic Boogie [Cousins] world that they’re living in now, so is like this the fallout now,” ESPN’s Tim Legler said on air. “Now [Dave] Joerger has some character guys that you can build with, like a young talent base, so I think he’s going to enjoy his job a lot more today coaching this particular group. So I feel great for the Kings, I don’t feel as great for the guys that have to go there just based on the history of what’s gone on there since they broke up that [Chris] Webber/Peja [Stojaković] group with Rick Adelman. It’s been a tough stretch there.”

    With a true point guard like Fox, the Kings now have a guy who has been compared to John Wall at the point.

    Jackson is an improved shooter, a great on-ball defender and a winner.

    Giles says he’s healthy after averaged under 4 points and 4 rebounds and Duke, with one NBA executive telling ZAGSBLOG he was a “top-5 talent” in the Draft.

    Mason might be an Isiah Thomas-type who proved he was the best player in college basketball and seemed to be overlooked by NBA teams due to his age and lower ceiling in comparison to some of these younger guys.

    “The talent [for the Kings] I do love,” Legler said. “I love De’Aaron Fox going there. And you could just keep on going with the list of names and saying what if this guy goes off because he’s capable of doing it? De’Aaron Fox is in that category because he’s capable of doing it. Look at Harry Giles, we know about the talent but you got the injuries, right? But you add in there Justin Jackson, a guy with high character who plays with a serious motor and skill. And you even pick up Frank Mason early in the second round who’s just tough as nails.”

    While these draft picks may not turn into superstars, there’s one thing for certain they bring to the Sacramento. The Will to win.

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    Adam Zagoria is a New York Times contributor and Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013. He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.