Kings‘ best draft fits: Small forward is a large hole on the roster

This is part of a series on the positions the Kings will look to fill in the upcoming draft and the players who best fit those spots. They will be published in order of need.


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First up: small forward

Level of need (scale of 1-10): 10


Kings coach Dave Joerger believes in today‘s NBA, the playmaking “three” or small forward might be the most challenging position to deal with defensively.

The Kings lack size, depth and playmaking at small forward. If the Kings simply had a “3-and-D” small forward, a wing with the size to cause problems on defense while showing accuracy from beyond the arc, that would help the problem. But many nights the Kings just don‘t have enough at the position to impact games consistently.

Who‘s there now?

Justin Jackson was a first-round draft pick last year. He has good length (6-foot-8) but the rookie wasn‘t strong enough to contend with elite small forwards, which was expected. He also struggled with his shot, shooting just 30.8 percent from 3-point range and 44.2 percent overall.

The Kings tried several ways to fill in the spot, using veteran Garrett Temple a lot. He was the Kings‘ best defender, but he was also needed to defend guards, too. And though he could play small forward for the Kings, the team doesn‘t need to use all his minutes there.

The Kings were able to try three-guard lineups, meaning guards Bogdan Bogdanovic and Buddy Hield also saw time at the three. Iman Shumpert will help on the wing, but he‘s not a long-term solution. The Kings need to know if Jackson or a player in the draft could fill this role for years to come.

Best fits

Luka Doncic, Slovenia/Real Madrid: There‘s a good chance the EuroLeague MVP is available when the Kings select second in the first round, and he makes sense for several reasons: He‘s a gifted offensive player and defenses would have to respect him on the scouting report, which would make things easier for the other four players on the court.

There are questions about Doncic‘s athleticism, which is to be expected coming from the EuroLeague, but many believe Doncic, 19, is as ready as any prospect in recent years to help a team right away.

Michael Porter Jr., Missouri: At 6-foot-10, Porter has elite size for a wing player. But he played in only three games as a freshman because of back surgery. Porter says he‘s healthy now and out to remind teams why he was ranked by many as the top high school player in the country last year.

If he lives up to his billing out of high school, Porter could be a dynamic player on the wing.

Mikal Bridges, Villanova: If the Kings were to trade down and select later in the lottery, Bridges might be an ideal target. He‘s a player who could become the kind of 3-and-D wing the Kings need. Then again, it would take quite a lot to get the Kings to trade down and it‘s doubtful another lottery team would have the assets to convince the Kings to move down and still be able to land Bridges.