Sacramento Kings: Will any of the team’s rookies make an impact in Year 1?

MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA - APRIL 06: Kyle Guy #5 of the Virginia Cavaliers reacts in the first half against the Auburn Tigers during the 2019 NCAA Final Four semifinal at U.S. Bank Stadium on April 6, 2019 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA - APRIL 06: Kyle Guy #5 of the Virginia Cavaliers reacts in the first half against the Auburn Tigers during the 2019 NCAA Final Four semifinal at U.S. Bank Stadium on April 6, 2019 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) /

The Sacramento Kings will have two of their three drafted rookies on their roster this season. But should we expect either to make much of an impact in their rookie season?

The Sacramento Kings are used to their rookies making instant impacts during their initial NBA seasons. Sometimes it’s out of necessity or sometimes it’s because their talent is too great to ignore.

But this season, neither of those are expected to be the case.

For the first time this century, the Kings did not have a first-round pick to make in this year’s draft. It also marked the first time in over a decade that the team had not made a selection in the top-10.

It was truly a historic night for the Kings — even if it was a little more boring than usual.

But Sacramento did still make three selections in this year’s NBA Draft. However, we’re only going to focus on the first two as Serbian wing Vanja Marinkovic is expected to remain overseas in Europe while he continues to work on his game.

So don’t expect to see Marinkovic with the Sacramento Kings anytime soon — let alone this season.

The first of three picks that the Kings made was the selection of Wyoming shooting guard/small forward Justin James. James was considered a mid-to-late second-round prospect with many analysts even projecting that he’d go undrafted, but the Kings opted to scoop him up earlier than expected.

The Wyoming product has proven to be an above-average defender and has the athleticism to guard players both smaller and bigger than him. That athleticism is what gives him relatively high upside, even if his offensive game needs a ton of work.

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And James showed just how much work his offense needs with his performance this summer. James shot just 4-of-16 in the California Classic before picking up the pace and shooting a much-improved 13-of-23 in Las Vegas.

If he could begin to develop an outside shot, the 22-year-old has the skill set to grow into a very solid three-and-D role player. Perhaps he could fit into a similar mold as recently signed veteran Trevor Ariza.

Both James and Ariza were selected within three picks of each other in the second round and if James could develop his three-point shot, he could parlay that into a 15-year career as his elder teammate did.

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Unfortunately, finding playing time on this Kings roster could prove challenging early on. Sacramento completely revamped their bench depth in the offseason meaning that it could be difficult for him to earn minutes this season.

James’ main competition on the wing will be Bogdan Bogdanovic and the aforementioned Ariza. Bogdanovic will likely serve as Buddy Hield‘s backup at shooting guard while Ariza will spell the returning Harrison Barnes at small forward.

It’s unlikely that James usurps either of those two on the depth chart at any point this season meaning that his best chance to receive playing time will likely be as a result of an unfortunate injury.

If not, expect James to spend a lot of his time either down in the G-League in Stockton or riding the bench/serving as the team’s fifth wing.

The other rookie draft pick on the Kings roster will be fellow second-round pick Kyle Guy. Guy impressed in this year’s summer league averaging 16.8 points in 30.5 minutes per game — leading the Kings in scoring.

The Virginia product has a knack for the clutch shot and can light up the scoreboard with his outside shooting ability. However, his physical limitations could hold him back from reaching his true potential.

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At just 6-foot-2, Guy is undersized for the shooting guard position but he doesn’t have the ball-handling or playmaking ability to play point guard. As such, he’s a bit of a tweener.

That designation could sometimes be good in the NBA as it makes you versatile — such is the case with a player like Draymond Green — but in Guy’s case, it could be the kiss of death.

Guy struggles to work around screens on defense and although his defensive IQ isn’t awful, his size limits what he could do on defense. He just doesn’t have the length or height to match up with most NBA shooting guards which will likely keep him off the floor.

The Kings signed Guy to a two-way contract meaning that he will be eligible to spend up to 45 days on Sacramento’s roster. Expect the Kings to give him some looks at points in the season but he’ll likely spend most of his time down in Stockton.

With Bogdanovic and James both competing for time at shooting guard and the likes of Cory Joseph and Yogi Ferrell backing up De’Aaron Fox at point guard, Guy likely wouldn’t see many minutes even if he was on the roster.

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Perhaps the duo of James and Guy could develop into quality role players at some point down the line. But at least for the upcoming 2019-20 season, it doesn’t appear that either will make much of an impact.