Lodi News-Sentinel reporter Mike Bush
For one minute, Lodi area Sacramento Kings fans were probably thrilled to have a Nor Cal guy taken at No. 8 of Thursday’s NBA Draft.
But the Kings sent former Washington forward Marquese Chriss, who played at Pleasant Grove High in Elk Grove, to the Phoenix Suns for the No. 13 and No. 22 picks. By the time the night was over, the Kings added five new players to their roster — with one current player voicing his thoughts in one sentence on social media.
With its No. 13 pick, Sacramento selected center Georgios Papagiannis — whose name is pronounced YOUR-gos Pa-pa-YAHN-iss. Now 18, he played for Panathinaikos (Greece) for the last four seasons. The 7-foot-1 center, who started playing professional basketball at 14, averaged 6.4 points, 2.6 rebounds and 11.4 minutes per game in 21 games last season. And he becomes the highest drafted Greek player ever. He played high school basketball in the United States at Westtown School in West Chester, Penn., before returning to Greece.
Having two more picks in the first round, the Kings stayed with the big man theme. On their 22nd pick, they picked up shooting guard Malachi Richardson out of Syracuse, part of a trade with Charlotte, then forward-center Skal Labissiere with the 28th pick, and the rights to Bogdan Bogdanovic (boag-DAHN boag-DAHN-O-vitch) and a future second-round selection from the Phoenix Suns in exchange for the draft rights to Chriss. The Kings finished the evening by taking guard Isaiah Cousins out of Oklahoma in the second round, 59th overall.
By now, local area Kings fans have positive and/or negative feelings toward the picks General Manager Vlade Divac made in the draft, instead of addressing the need for a point guard. Which leads to the one-word question: Why?
Divac, who is known for his stellar career with the Kings toward the end of the 1990s to the middle of the 2000s and prior with the Charlotte Hornets and Los Angeles Lakers, knows that in basketball, you have to have a front court as well as back court of playing moving the ball up the court and shooting near the arc.
Were you with Divac and the Kings’ front office at the time of their decisions? Highly doubtful.
Those of you who are Kings fans must have trust in Divac. Time will tell if the Kings’ picks will be considered brilliant or busts. The progress with the draft picks begins with summer league, workouts in the weight room, conditioning and finally training camp and games inside the new Golden 1 Center arena.
This is not the same front office that drafted Thomas Robinson and Jimmer Fredette in recent years. And the latter player has already gone through a half-dozen NBA teams and last year played for the Westchester Knicks of the NBA’s Development League. The message is clearly written on the bleachers for Fredette: Start thinking about life outside of an NBA player. Like toast, he’s done.
Kings center DeMarcus Cousins posted one sentence on Twitter — “Lord give me the strength.” What does he mean by that message? Upcoming weeks and months should tell the story.
Contact reporter Mike Bush at email@example.com. Follow on Twitter: @MBushLodiSports.