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An NBA team that hasn't made the playoffs in 16 years suddenly holds the keys to the draft

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Jaden Ivey looks up while resting his hands on his knees.
Jaden Ivey is considered the top guard prospect in the draft.Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
  • The Sacramento Kings own the fourth pick in the NBA draft, and it's considered a pivot point.

  • They could select the best player available, Jaden Ivey, but are fielding offers from interested teams.

  • The decision could signal their future plans and have a ripple effect on how the rest of the draft goes.

The Sacramento Kings are suddenly positioned to have a major influence on how the 2022 NBA draft plays out.

The Kings hold the fourth overall pick. Many experts are saying that pick could swing the draft, depending on whether Sacramento decides to keep the pick themselves or trade it to another team. What the Kings do with the fourth pick could signal either a slow, patient rebuild or a push for the playoffs next season.

The Ringer's Kevin O'Connor called the fourth pick a "pivot point".

The Athletic's Sam Vecenie said the draft has the potential to get "wild" at the fourth.

ESPN draft expert Jonathan Givony wrote: "In the view of many NBA teams, the draft starts here: Sacramento's decision ... will represent a key moment on Thursday night."

The consensus is that this draft has a solid top three: Auburn's Jabari Smith, Gonzaga's Chet Holmgren, and Duke's Paolo Banchero.

After that, it's less certain. Purdue guard Jaden Ivey is often regarded as the fourth-best prospect and the top guard prospect. On a media call with reporters on Wednesday, Givony said Ivey "has as much star power as any player in this draft."

Vivek Ranadive speaks on a microphone in front of a dark arena.
Kings owner Vivek Ranadive.Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images

But Ivey isn't a natural fit with the Kings, who already have point guard De'Aaron Fox on their roster. They selected guard Davion Mitchell with the ninth pick in last year's draft and traded away point guard Tyrese Haliburton at last year's trade deadline. Ivey also didn't work out with the Kings — likely in an attempt to dissuade them from drafting him.

Numerous teams have reportedly contacted the Kings about the fourth pick so they can take Ivey. Givony reported the Indiana Pacers, Washington Wizards, New York Knicks, Oklahoma City Thunder, and Atlanta Hawks have all reached out to the Kings to discuss moving up to the fourth pick.

The Kings are at an interesting pivot point. They are the league's most moribund franchise, on a 16-year playoff drought that has been rife with roster turnover and coaching changes.

The Kings could simply take Ivey, the best player available, and worry about fit later. It would signal dedication to a proper rebuild.

Of course, no one could blame the Kings for wanting to expedite their rebuild, either. They've had eight top-10 picks over the last decade and only two are still with the team: Fox and Mitchell.

Further, Givony reported that the Kings are demanding a hefty price for the fourth overall pick: veteran talent, a young player, and more draft picks.

Givony said on "The Lowe Post" podcast that a frequently mentioned trade involves the Atlanta Hawks sending forward John Collins, guard Kevin Huerter, and the 16th pick to Sacramento in exchange for No. 4.

The Knicks, who are known to covet Ivey, could also send a similar package involving veteran guards like Alec Burks or Evan Fournier, young prospects like Obi Toppin or Immanuel Quickley, their 11th overall pick this year, plus a future draft pick.

For a Kings team with core players in their primes like Fox and big man Domantas Sabonis, it's the type of deal that could help push them toward long-awaited playoff contention.

What the Kings decide to do with the fourth pick could have ripple effects. If they keep the pick and go with a player besides Ivey, it could cause a scramble among teams trying to get the fifth pick to take Ivey.

Draft experts believe there is a drop-off in talent after Ivey. If the Kings do take Ivey, other teams might be content to take whoever is available, rather than trading multiple assets for less-exciting players.

There is also the possibility that teams trade back if Ivey is off the board. The 2022 draft class isn't considered particularly strong. According to Bleacher Report's Jonathan Wasserman, it's possible that teams may look to trade back if their top prospect is gone, and perhaps even trade out of the 2022 draft altogether if it means getting picks for the 2023 draft, which is considered deep and talented.

Read the original article on Insider