2019 NBA Draft: Kings search for shooters in three second-round picks


SACRAMENTO -- The Kings had a busy night during the 2019 NBA Draft on Thursday. Armed with three second-round selections, general manager Vlade Divac went to work and clearly landed the three players he was hoping to get.

With the No. 40 pick, the Kings selected 6-foot-7 wing Justin James out of Wyoming. While the senior guard wasn’t on a lot of draft boards, he was a player who impressed the Kings during his in person workout.

“He’s a combo guard, very strong, very smart basketball IQ,,” Divac said. “He can definitely keep up with the way we want to play. I think he’s a ready NBA player.”

James played four years at Wyoming, averaging 22.1 points, 8.5 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game in his senior season. He stuffed the stat sheet, adding 1.5 steals and 0.6 blocks in 38.2 minutes a night for the Cowboys.

The 22-year-old wing struggled with his 3-point shot in his final college season, but it might be an aberration. He shot 36 percent from 3 through his junior yearbut shot 30.8 percent from deep as a junior and 29.6 percent as a senior. As his field goal attempts skyrocketed, though, his percentages took a hit: In each of the last three seasons, James averaged more shots per game than the one prior.

“Justin is an elite shooter [with high] basketball IQ, and can play one and two,” Divac said.

Divac and his group chose to move down in the draft with their second selection, dealing pick No. 47 to the New York Knicks for pick No. 55 and cash considerations. The Kings had a player in mind for the selection, and they knew he would still be available eight slots later.

After moving down, Sacramento selected Virginia's Kyle Guy, and the Kings couldn't have been more excited for the pick.

“His shooting is just exceptional,” Divac said. “I don’t know if I can say that, but I’m very confident he’s one of the best shooters in this class. He’s just unbelievable.”

Of the 101 players brought through for workouts, Guy is the only player to come through Sacramento twice. After torching the competition in his first workout, Divac and his group wanted a second look.

“When we had him the first time, it was like everybody was so excited, like, we’ve got to bring him again and see if he’s just lucky,” Divac said. “No, he was making a lot of shots the second time too.”

Undersized for a shooting guard, Guy will need time to develop as a distributor. He comes with a championship pedigree from his junior season in college, and he took home the Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four trophy.

Divac watched Guy win the title live during his scouting trips around the country and came away impressed with his heart and ability to hit the big shot.

With the final selection in the draft, Divac took a flyer on a player he knows very well from his native Serbia. Vanja Marinkovic posted 12.2 points, 2.4 rebounds and 1.8 assists in 27.7 minutes last season for Partizan Belgrade of the ABA League.

“He’s one of the best prospects from Europe,” Divac said. “I’ve known Vanja for a long time. He’s coming from a very good basketball program that Bogi [Bogdan Bogdanovic] came from.”

“I’m very confident that he’s going to be an NBA player,” Divac added. “His shooting ability, he knows how to play, his basketball IQ is off the charts.”

The 22-year-old small forward can shoot from the perimeter and create space for himself off the dribble. Whether or not he comes to the NBA this season is still unknown, but Divac thinks highly of all three players.

“They were picked by an NBA team, [but] they have a lot of work in front of them and they have to earn,” Divac said. “Coach Luke [Walton] is going to make those decisions.”

[RELATED: Here are the biggest winners, losers from 2019 NBA Draft]

The common thread throughout the picks were that they all can run and they all can shoot the ball. With the Kings planning to push the tempo, there is a certain style of player Sacramento is looking for, and all three fit the bill.

All three are expected to be in Sacramento next week as the Kings prepare for the California Classic tournament at Golden 1 Center. They’ll hold a three-day camp building up the games beginning on July 1. 

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