In his five seasons with Colorado (one as a redshirt), the Fayetteville, N.C. native was a reliable contributor for the Buffs, often hitting big threes, getting rebounds and making hustle plays on defense. If you exclude his minimal freshman year, King averaged 12.5 PPG for the Buffs, shooting 45% from the field and 40.9% from three. Most impressively, he averaged 6.43 rebounds per game in those three seasons.
It’s safe to say that CU head coach Tad Boyle, whose obsessive focus has always been on rebounding and defense, enjoyed having a presence like King on the team. Though players like Josh Scott and Derrick White often stole the spotlight, King was a consistent force that helped bridge the gap between recruiting classes and keep the Buffs competitive.
Though King’s performance at the combine helped raise his stock, it’s still more likely that he’ll be picked up as an undrafted free agent, especially considering his (relatively) old age of 24. He’ll also have to prove himself during the summer league before earning a spot on an NBA roster.
That being said, I thought it’d be fun to imagine some potential landing spots for the Forever Buff based off the needs of NBA teams heading into the draft.
Let’s start close to home.
As it so happens, the local NBA franchise is in desperate need of some depth at wing. While the Nuggs have successfully assembled a bottomless pit of power forwards, they’ve done very little to shore up at the three spot, relying on veteran Wilson Chandler as their only true small forward. Swingman Will Barton often shined in his role off the bench, but with his size and skill set, he still matches the profile of a high-volume guard more than a do-it-all forward.
Both players have questionable futures with the team, as Wilson disappointed heavily during the 2017-18 season and Barton is due to hit free agency this summer. The only other player the Nuggets have for that position is G League sendup Torrey Craig, who spent most of the season with the Sioux Falls Skyforce.
Denver needs to find some depth here, and they could start by swooping up King if he goes undrafted. Having another good shooter for Nikola Jokic to thread dimes to will always be a welcome sight for the Nuggets offense. It would also help space the floor, giving Jokic and Paul Millsap more room to operate inside. King could also bring that Tad Boyle mentality to Denver, upping the effort on rebounding and defense, two areas where the upstart Nuggets have continued to struggle.
The Bulls struck gold in last year’s draft, trading to select a unicorn in Lauri Markkanen. Paired with fellow big man Bobby Portis, Chicago has a formidable front court that’s starting to scratch at its potential. Now, with a couple of promising former Timberwolves making up their backcourt, Chicago is poised to start filling out the middle of their roster.
At small forward, they’ve relied on a combination of 2016 draft pick Denzel Valentine and the undersized David Nwaba, who’s proved surprising valuable on both sides of the floor. In King, the Bulls could find someone with a very similar skill set to Nwaba, but with a larger size. Slide Nwaba down to shooting guard and you’ve suddenly got a bench unit that’s tough as nails on the boards and brings the heat on D. A long-armed, athletic defender like King would be an asset for a young team that’s still learning how to defend.
As a bonus, King’s sharp shooting could help up the Bull’s abysmal 35.5 three-point percentage, which was ninth-worst in the league in 2017.
Things aren’t looking great in Memphis these days. Though they will get Mike Conley back next season, they’ll have to hope he and an aging Marc Gasol are enough to win games in the brutal western conference.
To make things worse, Tyreke Evans is all but assured to walk during free agency, leaving the Grizzlies with a hole at wing. Their only two options there are an increasingly elderly Chandler Parsons and award-winning flop actor Dillon Brooks.
If the Grizzlies are smart, they’ll address this need with the fourth overall pick, but they could always use more options. Unlike with the Bulls and Nuggets, King’s defense would be less of a focus. What Memphis could really use is a scoring punch and King could deliver with his shooting, athleticism and penchant for offensive boards.
If he can stomach sharing a locker room with his former foe in Brooks, King would fit in well with the Grizz.