Louis King was with family on June 20th, seated in a restaurant. With the NBA draft on a nearby television, King and his family sat and waited for his name to be called. One month prior, King said at a Pistons workout that he thought he would go, “in the 10 to 20 range”. Although this prediction may have been slightly high, many national mock drafts had him pegged as a late first to early second-rounder. However, as the King family sat at their table, picks 30, 40, and 50 went by with nothing to show for it.
After what felt like an eternity, Mark Tatum, the NBA Deputy Commissioner, announced the 60th and final pick. The Sacramento Kings selected Vanja Marinkovic, a Serbian shooting guard and in doing so, concluded the 2019 NBA Draft. Scouts cited a perceived lack of maturity for King’s slide. For the former Oregon Duck, it came as a shock. However he said it just gave him that extra bit of motivation,
My family and me, we were upset. But that’s just fuel to the fire. I’m extremely excited for the opportunity the Pistons gave me. It’s a blessing in disguise. Motivation, just getting me in the gym every day, getting up shots, getting better and making people see why they messed up.
It came as a surprise to multiple teams that King ended up sliding out of the draft. He had multiple offers after the draft to sign with teams. After digging through the offers King finalized a deal with the Pistons. He signed a two-way deal with Detroit, which will give him the opportunity to be featured with the Pistons and the Grand Rapids Drive. They had made it clear they valued him as a player and it’s clear to see why.
What King Brings
Standing at 6’8″ with a 7’1/4″ wingspan, King just looks the part of an NBA player. Although he weighed in at a slight 195 pounds at the Combine, King’s frame shows plenty of room to bulk up at the professional level. He tested well at the Combine, showing plus foot speed and a solid athletic profile all around. His tape at Oregon shows a smooth offensive player, who brings energy on the glass and defensive end.
King’s greatest strength is his diverse offensive abilities. He showed a pure stroke from the field, shooting 39% from behind the long line and 78% from at the charity stripe. His playmaking abilities are also a plus as King can put the ball on the floor and attack the rim. Once in the paint, he has shown a soft touch and the ability to kick out a pass as well. Questions have been raised about his shot selection and decision making, but King is still very young. With proper coaching from Casey and Co. at the top flight, as well as head coach Donnie Tyndall in Grand Rapids, those kinds of issues can be remedied.
On the defensive side of the ball, King has the size and length to guard positions 1-4 on the floor. His lateral quickness and wingspan are major pluses to his profile as an NBA defender. Paired with his high energy, the former five-star recruit could fill a major need on the wing for Detroit in the future. King is also solid on the glass and has shown the ability to outlet or run the transition offense on his own. (See 3:16 in video below)
What About Summer League?
Going into Summer League, Pistons fans were eager to see their young talent on display. Bruce Brown, Svi Mykhailiuk, and Khyri Thomas took advantage of their opportunities. Their play left fans of the Motor City excited for the future. However, King was one of the players lost in the shadows. His play was uninspiring and his shooting percentages were poor. Pistons Twitter definitely took notice and was quick to voice their displeasure with King’s performances.
Let’s be clear, King struggled in Vegas. He shot 4-15 from the floor, and only 1-8 from three. He didn’t turn the ball over an excessive amount but only saw the floor for roughly twelve minutes a game. Those are concerning numbers, but with Vegas being a small sample size there is still time for King to turn things around.
The Pistons knew that King would be a project. He flashed promise at Oregon, but he is still quite raw. At only 20 years old, there is ample time for him to develop. Having him on a two-way will give him great growth opportunities in Detroit and Grand Rapids. Learning under development gurus Sean Sweeney and Tim Grgurich will only help King. The signs are there that he can grow and the Pistons are ready to take that chance.
There is no question that Louis King is a prospect who shows enormous potential. The question now is can the Pistons (and Drive) unlock it? If King gets the opportunity to grow and learn, he could become a very productive two-way wing. His offensive prowess is already evident and if he can keep that hunger from being passed over 60 different times, his defense will thrive as well. So Pistons fans, keep an eye on Louis King. He may be in the Motor City for a long time to come.
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