Pacers (26-36) at Kings (13-48)
Scoring: Kings 15th (99.1), Pacers fifth (104.6).
Shooting: Kings tied for 25th (44.6 percent), Pacers tied for 19th (45).
Scoring defense: Kings 29th (108.3), Pacers 27th (106.4).
Shooting defense: Kings 30th (48.1 percent), Pacers tied for 16th (45.8).
Rebound differential: Kings 29th (minus-5.3), Pacers 18th (minus-0.4).
The link: Pacers coverage in the Indianapolis Star.
The almanac: On this date in 1985, Kevin McHale of the Celtics made 22 of 28 shots en route to a team-record 56 points. Larry Bird bettered that nine days later with 60 points. On this date in 1986, Mark Aguirre of the Mavericks scored 42 points, giving him 40 or better in back-to-back games. On this date in 1995, A.C. Green of the Suns played in his 707th game in a row to pass Dolph Schayes for third place on the all-time ironman list.
Everything tilts on his decision. With Rubio in, that's the potential No. 2 pick, after Oklahoma power forward Blake Griffin, and the possibility of three point guards in the top eight or 10: Rubio, Brandon Jennings and Jeff Teague. With Rubio out, there goes the best prospect at the position and here comes the good chance that no point guard is chosen in the top four.
A great deal can change between now and the June 25 draft. Individual workouts alter stock. The NCAA Tournament, for Teague and Wake Forest, can do the same. But for the moment, I have not talked to any team that says Jennings or Teague deserves a top-four ranking, which is important because the Kings are guaranteed to pick no later than fourth if they hold their current position and finish with the worst record. The second-worst record locks them in the top five, the third-worst in the top six, and so on.
Jennings/Teague territory is more like 6-10, depending on the usual factors (team need, who's in and who's out, postseason performance and post-postseason performance). That's a big difference from the top point guard going second, though Connecticut's 7-3 Hasheem Thabeet also is a candidate for No. 2 if a team needs to go big more than PG. Oklahoma City, for example.
In the words of the executives, all requesting anonymity to not tip their team's thinking:
*Whether Rubio will be in the draft or remain in his native Spain because of a prohibitive buyout that will eat up much of his income from a first NBA contract:
"Rubio sounds like he's not coming out. He's got a huge buyout. Unless he takes everyone by surprise, I think people are expecting him to stay."
Another: "If I was a betting man, I'd say he isn't" coming.
Another, without hesitation: "Staying."
*Why Rubio is a better prospect than Jennings, the American who broke ranks and turned pro in Italy this season rather than play a freshman season in college:
"He has a genius basketball IQ. He's one of those guys who has that innate feel for the game."
Another: "I think Brandon Jennings is way risky. He's so small. (Listed at 6-1.) If you line all the dots up and line all the dots down, the dots go down a lot further."
Another: "You just watched this guy (Rubio) play against the Redeem Team (in the Olympics), and he's effective in that setting and at that age. As opposed to Brandon Jennings, who's not even an effective player in a middle-of-the-road European league. ... The comparison he (Jennings) gets most often is Kenny Anderson. How high in the draft do you want to go to draft Kenny Anderson?"
*And, as long as we're at it, an indication of the range of opinion on Thabeet, who some consider a one-hit wonder on the equivalent of a contract drive but unable to deliver a consistent pro career and others think is finally showing the harnessed potential that will turn him into an NBA factor:
"He's a kid that has exploded on the scene, even though he's been around three years. I know some guys in the league think he's going to be great."
Another: "I'd be scared to death."
All considerations for the Kings, whether point guard or center, because Geoff Petrie will draft a center if that's the best talent on the board. On the other hand, it all goes out the window if they draw No. 1 at the lottery. It's Blake Griffin all the way then, and someone else can debate the point guards and weigh the risky center.