SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — The Sacramento Kings selected Wyoming guard Justin James with the 40th overall pick in the NBA draft Thursday night.
James led the Mountain West Conference with 22.1 points a game as a senior. The 6-foot-7, 190-pound wing also averaged 8.5 rebounds and 4.4 assists for the Cowboys. James finished his four-year career with 2,061 points, fourth-most in conference history.
The Kings are looking for perimeter scoring after Harrison Barnes opted out of the final year of his contract and became a free agent.
Sacramento also has the 47th and 60th picks.
James joins a Kings team that made significant strides last season but finished ninth in the crowded West.
Sacramento’s 39-43 record was its best in 13 seasons and a 12-game improvement from the previous year. But it wasn’t enough to save Dave Joerger, who was fired after three seasons.
Luke Walton was hired to replace Joerger in April, two days after being fired by the Lakers.
In Los Angeles, Walton often found himself overshadowed by the presence of four-time MVP LeBron James, who turns 35 in December. With Sacramento, Walton will oversee a team whose core players are still in their NBA infancy. Buddy Hield is 26, De’Aaron Fox is 21 and Marvin Bagley III, the second overall pick in 2018, is 20.
The Kings have three picks in the second round but didn’t have a first-rounder for the first time since 2003. The selection was traded to Philadelphia in 2015 as part of a salary dump when the team was attempting to clear cap space to sign Rajon Rondo.
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