Kings Free Agency Target Profile: Kevon Looney
Welcome to KHTK’s Kings free agency profiles! Here we’ll be breaking down some of the top players the Kings should target in free agency, analyzing their career numbers, fit with the Kings and potential downsides. We’ll also assign a priority score to each player, signifying how strongly the Kings should consider pursuing a given free agent.
Kevon Looney, 23, finally came into his own as an NBA player during the 2018-19 season. He posted career highs across the board with 6.3 points on 62.5 percent shooting last season. He also pulled down a career-best 5.2 rebounds in a career-high 18.2 minutes per game.
After battling injuries and struggling to get into the regular rotation for Golden State during his first three years, the former No. 30 overall pick from the 2014 draft found a role as the first big off the bench for the Warriors in the playoffs. Looney played key minutes throughout the postseason and became a reliable, versatile defender and rebounder for the Finals runner up.
A tough, veteran frontcourt player who can start or be effective off the bench would be a nice fit in Sacramento’s front court rotation. Looney’s never going to put up All-Star numbers, but the Kings don’t necessarily need that kind of production inside with Marvin Bagley and Harry Giles garnering most of the opportunities down low.
At 6’9″, 220 pounds, Looney is a nice blend of the traditional, big-bodied center and the more modern, faster, floor-spacing big. He can co-exist with any of the Kings’ front court players thanks to his high basketball IQ and defensive versatility.
He’s also a very good rebounder on both ends of the floor. Last season he posted 13.4 rebounds per 100 possessions, including 6.2 on the offensive glass and 7.2 on the defensive side. Those are enticing numbers for a team that badly needs rebounding help.
Perhaps Looney’s best qualities for the Kings are his abilities to keep up with the Kings’ pace, and space the floor. He’s not a three-point threat, but he’s an adept shooter in the 16-to-20 foot range. He hit 50 percent of his shots from between 16 feet and the three point line a season ago. Looney has a great sense of where to be on offense and creates easy baskets by rolling to the rim and finishing in the paint. He shot 73.1 percent within three feet of the rim last year.
A rotational big who does all the little things that don’t show up in the box score is a terrific, lower-cost fit for a young, star-studded Sacramento front court.
Looney’s never been in a situation where he’s not playing with the likes of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green. His minimal production in 18 minutes per game last season makes giving him any kind of substantial deal a little bit of a risk. Sacramento may aim to lean on a veteran center in crunch time of close games, and Looney hasn’t shown the ability to be the focal point of an offense.
His playmaking ability is also fairly limited. He worked well within the structure of the Warriors’ free flowing offense, but he was prone to mistakes on that end with the ball in his hands. Looney almost always knows what to do on the floor. He doesn’t always execute.
Durability is a concern as well. Looney played five games as a rookie, 53 in Year 2, 66 in Year 3 and 80 last season. He wound up getting hurt in the Finals when Kawhi Leonard ran into him on a drive. The play fractured cartilage in Looney’s chest, although to his credit, he played through the injury and missed just one game in the Finals after being told he was out for the series.
Paying a rotational player big money to put up 6.3 points and 5.2 boards is a risky proposition for a team that could be a center away from a playoff spot.
Looney is a perfect fit for what the Kings need in their front court. They could shell out a high-dollar contract for a player like Al Horford or Nikola Vucevic. However, the former Warrior fills a ton of needs for the Kings’ front court without taking away minutes from Harry Giles or Marvin Bagley. He’s a smart player who can come off the bench and start when needed. Sacramento may have to overpay him some to pry him away from Golden State or another center-needy team, but it’s hard to believe Looney couldn’t come in and have an immediate, positive impact on the Kings’ front court.
Priority score: 9/10