2023 Mock Draft 2.0: Spurs roll the dice, Hornets win Wembanyama sweepstakes

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. player. 84. . . New Zealand Breakers. Rayan Rupert. 24

The Sacramento Kings should be incredibly proud of the run they put together this postseason, but addressing their lackluster defense needs to be priority #1 this offseason and beyond if they’re ever to become a viable championship-caliber team with their current core. If the Kings don’t mind compromising on offensive upside with the player they select here, then I think Andre Jackson Jr. or even Jordan Walsh could be in play here, but ultimately I think the team would be more optimistic with Rayan Rupert if he’s still available. 

Rupert’s defensive upside is by far his main selling point as a prospect, and it should mean something to many decision-makers around the league that he was getting meaningful minutes on a championship-contending New Zealand Breakers team as one of their best wing-stoppers. But it’s Rupert’s upside as a ball-handler, playmaker, and shooter that will likely get teams more excited about him compared to other offensively-limited wings that may be selected after him.

Rupert’s abilities to put the ball on the floor and make plays for others should make the Kings confident that he won’t be a ball-stopper on offense even if the shooting doesn’t come along. But more importantly, the team will gain a defensive playmaker that can be thrown onto opposing teams’ best players and push the pace in transition when he creates turnovers.