There have been bad free-agent deals, bad coaching searches and, big picture, bad seasons, but the Geoff Petrie Draft Record remains very good and that's the issue of the day.
Petrie and the Kings are hours away from their toughest draft call with the most on the line since Jason Williams in 1998. Even if the 2007 selection at No. 10 was two spots higher than tonight's trap door, and therefore theoretically requiring a bigger payoff, they wanted a center or power forward and had good reason to feel one would be there. Bigs went 6, 8, 9, 10 and Spencer Hawes ended up in Sac. All very logical and clean.
There's no such cushion with No. 12 in '08.
The position need is point guard and there should have been a direct path to at least the option of Texas smurf D.J. Augustin once the Pacers agreed to acquire T.J. Ford from the Raptors, a deal that can not become official until July 9 because of salary-cap technicalities. But Indy is not instantly steering away from Augustin. Plus, Charlotte, at No. 9, will consider a point.
The Kings also need a physical power forward -- they're road kill on the boards now and can't get to a special place in the future without an enforcer next to Hawes, to compensate for his lack of muscle and defense. The possible solution is Marreese Speights of Florida.
It's very possible the best prospects at 12 won't address a problem area, an uncomfortable draft night for a team that just went 38-44. Anthony Randolph of LSU is a matchstick of a power forward who could be two years away from any real contribution, but he's athletic and loaded with offensive skills and so he may be the pick, because he could be the guy left on the board with the best chance to one day be a star.
Petrie knows how to work this room, though. Six first-round selections since 2000, most in the teens and 20s, three direct hits (Hedo Turkoglu, Gerald Wallace, Kevin Martin), one decent payback (Francisco Garcia), one zero payback (Quincy Douby) and one TBA (Spencer Hawes). That's a good return for anyone. For a GM usually picking late, that's tremendous.
They didn't all bloom in Sacramento, an obvious problem for another day. Hedo was traded to San Antonio in 2003 in the Brad Miller deal and reached his potential in Orlando, and Wallace went to Charlotte in the 2004 expansion draft.
But on judging young talent and how it will project, Petrie's record this decade sparkles.
2000 ... Hedo Turkoglu (No. 16 overall)
Current location and status: The reigning Most Improved Player after averaging 19.5 points, 5.7 rebounds, 5.0 assists and shooting 45.6 percent overall and 40 percent on threes in Orlando. Turkoglu, not glamour free-agent signing Rashard Lewis, became the top complementary piece to Dwight Howard as the Magic went 52-30 and won the Southeast Division.
Revised draft value based on career: Top 10 and maybe pressing all the way against the top five in a very bad class in which the first selections were Kenyon Martin, Stromile Swift, Darius Miles, Marcus Fizer, Mike Miller, DerMarr Johnson, Chris Mihm, Jamal Crawford, Joel Pryzbilla, Keyon Dooling and Jerome Moiso. Most of those are either out of the league or loitering around the fringes.
Steal of the draft: Michael Redd to the Bucks at No. 43.
2001 ... Gerald Wallace (25)
Current location and status: Has averaged 19.4 points and 18.1 points the last two seasons in Charlotte while finishing fifth in the league in steals each time.
Revised draft value: Ten to the early-teens. There's Tyson Chandler, Pau Gasol, Jason Richardson, Shane Battier, Joe Johnson, Richard Jefferson, Zach Randolph, Tony Parker and Gilbert Arenas, then Wallace in some mix of Eddy Curry, Samuel Dalembert and Mehmet Okur. Wallace could soon blow past Randolph and Curry.
Steal of the draft: Parker to the Spurs at No. 28 or Arenas to the Warriors at No. 31.
2002 ... No pick
The Kings are officially on the books as taking Dan Dickau at 28, but the selection was made on behalf of the Hawks as part of as pre-arranged trade.
2003 ... No pick
The selection was traded to Orlando in 1999 as part of the Nick Anderson / Tariq Abdul-Wahad deal.
2004 ... Kevin Martin (26)
Current location and status: Leading scorer on the eighth-highest scoring team in the league. Being chosen for the USA Basketball Select team, an early step in what could lead to playing in the Olympics and world championships, is great praise.
Revised draft value: Top five to top 10. Dwight Howard is the unquestioned No. 1, in reality and in the revised world, and then comes some order of Emeka Okafor, Ben Gordon, Luol Deng, Andre Igoudala, Josh Smith and Martin. Each has had very good moments.
Steal of the draft: Martin.
2005 ... Francisco Garcia (23)
Current location and status: Key reserve in Sacramento with three consecutive seasons of improved scoring and shooting. Garcia is reminiscent of the young Turkoglu as a versatile wing who at worst appears destined for a long, solid career as a sixth man, with room to grow into something greater.
Revised draft value: Mid-to-late teens in a good draft with a few stars (Chris Paul, Deron Williams), several players heading toward standout careers or maybe more (Andrew Bogut, Andrew Bynum, Danny Granger, David Lee, Monta Ellis, maybe Marvin Williams).
Steal of the draft: Ellis to the Warriors at No. 40.
2006 ... Quincy Douby (19)
Current location and status: Near the end of the bench in Sacramento as the fourth-string shooting guard on a team that barely has a need for three.
Revised draft value: Late-20s. The production of some classmates keeps him that high: Adam Morrison (No. 3 overall), Shelden Williams (5), Patrick O'Bryant (9), Saer Sene (10), J.J. Redick (11), and very few candidates to improve from the second round and knock Douby into the 30s.
Steal of the draft: Paul Millsap to the Jazz at 47.
2007 ... Spencer Hawes (10)
Current location and status: Backup center in Sacramento and positioned as the successor to Brad Miller. If Miller remains in good health, he'll still be considerably better then Hawes in 2008-09, but Hawes will have an increased presence.
Revised draft value: Holding steady. A few players picked later had better rookie seasons (Al Thornton, Rodney Stuckey, Carl Landry) and some picked before had worse or just as uneventful (Corey Brewer, Brandan Wright).
Steal of the draft: Way too soon to tell.