C.J. McCollum: Kings promised to draft me

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Ben McLemore looked like he’d be a top-three pick in the 2013 NBA draft. He was commonly mocked to the Magic at No. 2. So, when he fell to the Kings at No. 7, they appeared to get a major steal.

But McLemore didn’t pan out in Sacramento.

Even worse, McLemore’s surprising draft-night slide apparently cost the Kings one of the rare success stories from that lottery.

C.J. McCollum on “All The Smoke”:

The Sacramento Kings promised me at seven. They said that they were going to draft me if I was available. And then Ben McLemore fell, and they ended up drafting him. So, I thought I was going to Sacramento.

It’s easy to ridicule the Kings, who have made plenty of draft blunders (and trade blunders and free-agency blunders and…). But McLemore was widely considered a better prospect than McCollum. Really, Sacramento should get credit for coming closer than most teams on recognizing McCollum’s ability. Teams like the Hornets (who took Cody Zeller No. 4), Suns (who took Alex Len No. 5) and Jazz (who traded up to get Trey Burke No. 9) passed on McCollum for lesser players without any indication they appreciated McCollum’s potential.

The Kings might deserve blame for reneging on a promise. They should have promised McCollum they’d draft him only if they were certain they would. Though surprising, McLemore falling to No. 7 wasn’t exactly unforeseeable. To be fair, perhaps Sacramento – with Pete D’Alessandro running the front office – put conditions on the promise.

This worked out well for McCollum, whom the Trail Blazers picked No. 10. They gave him time to grow then space to blossom – then two big contract extensions. McCollum has played in the playoffs each season of his career.

As for the Kings… their long playoff drought, which predated passing on McCollum, continues.