SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) – The Sacramento Kings selected Kansas forward Thomas Robinson with the fifth pick in the NBA draft on Thursday night.
Robinson was considered perhaps the most NBA-ready player in the draft and the Kings need plenty of immediate help after missing the playoffs for a sixth straight season.
Robinson, the first unanimous first-team All-American since Blake Griffin, led the Jayhawks to the national championship game against Kentucky, where they lost 67-59. He averaged 17.9 points and 11.8 rebounds per game in 31.8 minutes in his junior season and led the nation with 27 double-doubles.
Robinson broke down and hugged his 9-year-old sister, Jayla, after Commissioner David Stern announced the Kings had drafted him in an emotional scene.
In January 2011, Robinson received a phone call from his young sister, who told him that their mother had died of a heart attack in his hometown of Washington, D.C. The two had been raised by their single mother, Lisa Robinson. In a span of three weeks, they had also lost their grandfather and grandmother, and Robinson’s father had never really been involved in his life. Jayla is expected to move to California with Robinson.
The Kings are coming off another disappointing season, finishing the shortened campaign 22-44 to miss the postseason once again. Coach Paul Westphal was fired after just seven games and replaced by Keith Smart, who will be back for his first full season next year.
With a run of high draft picks, the Kings have some pieces already in place, most notably center DeMarcus Cousins, who averaged 18.1 points and 11 rebounds per game in his second season.
Tyreke Evans, the 2010 Rookie of the Year, had career lows with 16.5 points, 4.6 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game, and ended the season as a small forward after playing point guard for his first two seasons.
Isaiah Thomas, the final pick of last year’s draft, took over the starting point guard role and averaged 11.5 points per game. He was much more effective than first-round pick Jimmer Fredette, who averaged 7.6 points per game and shot 39 percent from the field.
Robinson will provide a big boost defensively to the team that allowed the most points per game in the NBA last season.
Sacramento also has the sixth pick in the second round, No. 36 overall.
The Kings also announced that one of last year’s second-round picks, forward Tyler Honeycutt, has a stress fracture in his right foot and will be in a walking boot for three weeks. Honeycutt will miss summer league and will be out for six weeks. Honeycutt averaged 1.3 points in 15 games as a rookie.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.