Four Colorado Buffaloes have been drafted in the Tad Boyle. On Thursday night, George King could be the fifth. If he hears his name, it would likely be in the late second round to a team in need of an NBA-ready wing.
At 24 years of age, King will almost certainly be the oldest player if he’s selected. His age may be unappealing to NBA teams that draft for potential growth, but that would undermine everything King has done in his five seasons at Colorado.
King came to the Buffaloes in 2013 in a recruiting class that featured Jaron Hopkins, Tre’Shaun Fletcher and Dustin Thomas. (2013 was a long time ago.) He played sporadically in his first season, but he was the most raw of the freshmen, so he made the decision to redshirt the following year to focus on the growth of his game. That paid off wonderfully. Within that year he packed on muscle, rehauled his jumpshot and cleaned up his handle. At the start of that next season, he filled in for an injured Xavier Johnson and was an essential piece of the rotation for the rest of his career.
In his sophomore season, King first showed off why he could hear his name on draft night. As a complimentary player to Josh Scott, King was a marksman first and a shot creator second. He’s not particularly large for a wing — he’s maybe 6’6 with shoes on — but he has long arms and a quick jumper that he releases above his head. King was a dangerous shooter when open, and he never seems bothered by a defender contesting his shot. En route to winning Pac-12 Most Improved Player that year, he averaged 13.6 points on 46% three-point shooting. That shooting was his calling card in college, and it will definitely be what will get him to the NBA.
The following year, King struggled quite a bit. He was demoted into a lesser offensive role once Johnson returned and Derrick White was eligible to play. For a streaky shooter like him, he battled inconsistency, especially when he wasn’t really getting the ball. Even in a lost season of sorts, King did still shoot a respectable 38% from deep, and more importantly, he started to scratch the surface of his defense and rebounding.
In 2017-18, the Colorado Buffaloes had one of the youngest teams in the nation. Because the Buffs were starting three or four freshmen throughout Pac-12 play, King was required to provide a veteran presence, and that included him perfecting the little things that contribute to winning basketball. While continuing to be a high-level shooter, King grew to become Colorado’s best all-around defender. King was undersized for a power forward in college, let alone the NBA, but his 7’0 wingspan and defensive awareness made him a superb defender. He still had some lapses in concentration here and there, but always held his own when matched up against NBA talent.
King projects as a 3-and-D hybrid forward at the next level. He will never be a scorer, but he should be a quality three-point threat. His shot is clean and quick, and he’s comfortable shooting from anywhere in any situation; he’s certainly a good enough shooter to survive in the NBA. Defensively, King will be undersized and he has only average athleticism, but he’s lengthy, thicc, and has a good defensive IQ. He’s quick enough to adequately defend wings and he’s long and strong enough to match up with larger forwards. It also helps that he’s a terrific rebounder for his size.
The best outlook for King is that despite his age, he continues to improve. Each and every season at Colorado, he added something significant to his game. He’s a hard worker, he’s humble, and he’s very coachable. There’s reason to believe that he’s going to keep improving. If King is drafted tonight, his team will never regret it. If he goes undrafted, King will work his ass off until he makes it to the NBA.
Player comparison: Lance Thomas