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NBA draft 2017 grades: The Kings were uncharacteristically good on NBA draft night

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Sacramento made smart play after smart play. After dealing Boogie for bubble wrap, the Kings needed a W.

NBA: Draft Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

After trading DeMarcus Cousins for basically Buddy Hield and the No. 10 pick, watching their front office absorb blow after blow in an eventual death by public perception, and finishing the season 31-51 and lightyears away from the Western Conference playoff picture, the Sacramento Kings desperately needed a win.

Sacramento didn’t have a sparkling NBA draft track record, either. After all, these are the same Kings who took Georgios Papagiannis (he’s a project) at No. 13 last year, Willie Cauley-Stein in 2015 (while starters like Devin Booker, Myles Turner and Justise Winslow were available), and took Nik Stauskas in 2014 before trading him and next year’s pick to the 76ers in a salary dump.

In other word, the Kings needed a win, badly. They picked up a W on Thursday.

Sacramento drafted Kentucky point guard De’Aaron Fox, widely regarded as the third-best point guard in the draft behind Markelle Fultz and Lonzo Ball, at No. 5. The Kings then traded the No. 10 pick they acquired in the Cousins trade to Portland for picks 15 and 20.

Sacramento took UNC’s perimeter scorer Justin Jackson at 15 before drafting Harry Giles — a former No. 1 recruit in the country who fell from grace after tearing the ACLs in both his knees. If he ever makes a full recovery, he can return to his standing as one of the best bigs in basketball.

When it couldn’t get any better, Sacramento took Kansas point guard and 2017 Naismith College Basketball Player of the Year Frank Mason III, one of the most winningest players in the NCAA during his four years with the Jayhawks.

Portland took sharpshooting Gonzaga center Zach Collins at 10.

Basically, the Kings had three picks, flipped one into two for a total of four shots at the deepest draft pool in recent history and — at least for now — didn’t mess it up.

Who woulda thought a franchise mired in ineptitude could have turned in such a solid draft night?

Our own draft expert, Ricky O’Donnell, gave the Kings a B+, using his grading power to coddle himself after his hometown Bulls completely botched the Jimmy Butler trade:

De’Aaron Fox was the player the Kings wanted all along, and they were fortunate to see him fall to No. 5. The trade down with the Blazers netted them UNC forward Justin Jackson, who fills a hole on the wing, as well as Duke’s Harry Giles. There was a time when Giles was considered a possible No. 1 overall pick before knee injuries took a toll on his production at Duke. I also like the selection of Frank Mason III in the second round.

Sacramento’s newfound draft success literally confused Sports Illustrated, which seemed reluctant to give the Kings an A+:

Fox is great, and instead of trading up to get him, the Kings waited for him to fall at five. Then they turned the No. 10 pick into 15 and 20. Justin Jackson should be an excellent role player for them, and Giles is smart gamble at 20. I don't want to get too excited, and I'm worried about jinxing this, I don't know what to trust here, but... The Kings had a great draft?

For a franchise that couldn’t buy a passing grade in years past, this level of summer success is unprecedented. And if this is a sign of things to come for the Kings, the sun could be shining in northern California sooner than later.