Freshman forward Louis King has thrown his name in to enter the 2019 NBA Draft. How does he project into the NBA, and how does he fit with the Philadelphia 76ers?
Fun Fact: Lou King has no relation to Liu Kang. Alas.
Louis King will pop on a highlight reel. His tall, skinny, long frame looks good on tape (see the end of this article), and his ability to get up for dunks and hit 3s looks good separated out from the rest of his game. It’s that whole “rest of his game” part that’s a problem. It’s hard to pick out anything King does well on a consistent, game-long basis.
If King were a young freshman, his unrefined game would be easy to write off as growing pains. Unfortunately, he’s not. He’s four months older than sophomore Ja Morant, and it’s hard to point to a single thing he does at anything close to an NBA level other than shoot, and it’s not immediately clear whether his shooting will translate either.
Louis King may be an interesting 2nd round developmental prospect for a team who can afford to wait for a few years to see if he turns into anything. That’s about it.
Louis King the College Player
King missed the first few weeks of the college season due to a torn meniscus suffered as a high school senior. In fact, he and teammate Bol Bol played only two games together. An optimistic view of his season’s shooting is that he started slow as he worked back into game shape and finished strong at the end. A pessimistic view of his season is that he simply wasn’t that good of a shooter who had a couple of hot games at the right time for his draft stock.
More problematically, there’s no real explanation for the rest of his game. His rebounding effort varied wildly. He had two games all season with more than 3 assists and had worse than a 1:1.5 A:TO. He generated less than 1 steal per game (1.7% STL) and blocked shots at the rate you would expect from a small guard, not a long forward.
His NCAA tournament is something of an encapsulation of King. In 101 minutes over 3 games, he shot 11-18 from three. Which is great! The rest of his line? 5-14 from 2, only 6 FTs (though he made them all), 5 offensive rebounds, 7 defensive rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, 0 blocks, 6 turnovers.
Again, if King were an 18 year old or even a young 19 year old, these are things you would chalk up to young player jitters. But he’s the age of the average sophomore, not the average freshman. More is expected.
Where can we expect Louis King to go in the 2019 NBA Draft?
The Athletic: 45
King had snuck up into the first round of some mocks earlier in the process, but it appears he is firmly considered a second rounder at this point.
Louis King’s Strengths
Looks like a basketball player: As alluded to in the very beginning of this, King’s biggest strength is that he looks like a good, athletic player on highlight reels. He has a long body accentuated by his lack of weight, and when he explodes and extends, he looks like what you imagine an athletic basketball player looks like. He passes the eye test with flying colors, especially when viewing his good plays.
Shooting, I guess?: A 38.6% 3P and 78.5% FT is a nice statistical base. His form is a bit awkward, but it’s consistent and I don’t really see a long term issue with it. However, his poor finishing around the rim (under 60%) and mediocre mid-range shooting (under 40%) give hesitation. He’ll probably eventually get decent 3 point range, but it probably won’t be right away.
Louis King’s Weaknesses
Physical tools not as good as first glance: King was listed at 6’9″, 205 in college. At the combine, he measured at 6’6.75″ (w/o shoes, 6’8″ w/ shoes) and 195 pounds. That’s the difference between being a SF with PF potential at the next level and being limited to SG at the next level with maybe a shot to play SF if he bulks up. And if that was the only issue, it could be overlooked. His wingspan and standing vert were fine but not special. His max vert was in line with centers and guys not considered good athletes. He managed an incredible 0 bench presses. The only conclusion you can draw is that a falsely listed height and a pleasing body type fooled the eye test – King is an averaged sized average athlete, at least as far as NBA players are concerned.
Defense: It’s not clear whether King doesn’t know how to play defense, doesn’t care to play defense, or doesn’t have the strength to play defense. What is clear is that he can’t play defense. He will have to do better on all three counts to reach a level that would merit him seeing significant time on an NBA court.
Offense other than shooting: King is fine when he has a clear jump at the rim or when he has an open 3 in the catch-and-shoot. However, when he is faced with contact inside, he struggles. This is likely tied to the lack of weight and strength. He simply doesn’t have the ability to finish or draw contact consistency. His decision-making with the ball is poor. He doesn’t have quite as far to go on offense as he does on defense because he has a few skills, but he still needs massive refinement.
Louis King fits one of the most typical overdrafted player styles: the lanky athlete. These guys pass the eye test consistently, especially on the type of highlight reels and breakdowns that get passed around at draft time. But the question of whether a player will succeed at the next level isn’t whether his body type is pleasing to type in highlight reels, it’s whether he has the skills necessary to make it work on a consistent possession-to-possession basis.
King fails when it comes to the larger picture. His defense may not exist, and his rebounding exists only when he really feels like it. His offense is extremely rudimentary, and he struggles in any situation that requires him to use his body or strength or decision-making.
Enjoy watching his highlights. They’re fun. That’s about it.
Louis King’s Fit with the 76ers
He doesn’t fit at all. The Sixers are in no position to take a long-term project who tops out as a bench roleplayer if he actually develops. If King goes undrafted, he’d fit fine on the Blue Coats, but that’s about it.
Now…to the tape!
How do you feel about Louis King on the Sixers? Let us know by leaving a comment below or reaching out on Twitter!