Upgrade Your Fandom

Join the Ultimate Denver nuggets Community!

How Colorado's George King went from NBA afterthought to one of the draft's fastest risers

Harrison Wind Avatar
June 5, 2018

George King’s college career ended nearly three months ago on a Thursday night in Las Vegas when Deandre Ayton and Arizona rolled Colorado 83-67 in the Pac-12 tournament quarterfinals. The fifth-year senior quietly departed the University of Colorado 18th on the school’s all-time scoring list, 14th in rebounds and fifth in three-pointers made.

Despite a productive four-year career, King’s future was uncertain. He was set to be one of the oldest prospects in the draft at 24 and didn’t put up the raw numbers at Colorado that usually result in a first- or second-round selection.

But King shined at the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament (PIT) in April — a four-day tournament that features the best college seniors from around the country — and was named to the All-Tournament team. He was the tournament’s fourth-leading scorer after averaging 18.0 points and 7.7 rebounds per game. King shot 58 percent from the field and hit seven of the 13 threes he attempted at the PIT.

He parlayed that strong performance into an NBA Combine invite where the 6-foot-6 wing again impressed. King’s 6-foot-11 1/2 wingspan wowed scouts, and his 10 1/4 inch hand width was the largest of any small forward at the combine. He tested out as a plus-athlete and played well in 5-on-5 competition.

“It just clicked,” King said when reflecting on the past few months.

Publicly, King has shown off a versatile skill-set to NBA teams since his college season ended, and King’s camp says he’s received legitimate interest from teams in the second round. The Nuggets hold two second-round selections — the 43rd and 58th overall picks.

Privately, King’s kept his head to the ground and gone through a rigorous offseason program with Colorado assistant coach Kim English. Their focus is simple: to work on the skills that make King an attractive NBA prospect. The two don’t spend a ton of energy or time working on his weaknesses.

The vast majority of players in the league are guys who are great at one or two things, so that’s where our focus is,” English said.

In the lead up to King’s slate of pre-draft workouts (he has eight remaining including Atlanta, which is up next) the duo worked out five days a week. Mornings are for shooting and skill work. English, who appeared in 41 games for the Pistons during the 2012-13 season before playing abroad and eventually taking a job as an assistant at the University of Tulsa, also tutors King on NBA terminology and reads in the half-court. Then King lifts weights and comes back to the gym at night for more shooting.

“He’s simply worked harder and smarter than other guys in the draft,” English said. “I feel like he’s the most prepared kid in every workout he’s been in. The pre-draft process wasn’t to get him ready for these workouts, or Portsmouth or the NBA Combine. We’ve been working to get him ready for Oct. 1: the first day of training camp.”

This isn’t King’s first rodeo with the pre-draft process. He worked out for the Nuggets last summer before returning to Colorado for his senior season where he averaged 12.9 points and 7.8 rebounds per game. King also shot 39.5 percent from distance on roughly five threes per game and converted 78 percent of his free throws. He played in front of Nuggets coaches and front office personnel again Monday morning alongside five other prospects including projected first-round pick Keita Bates-Diop. Denver knows King well and has watched him play in person at Colorado on numerous occasions over the past few years.

“Last year, I was a deer in headlights,” said King. “I didn’t know. Now that I’ve had that experience I get to kind of just take a breath and just not worry about anything else that doesn’t matter. Just go out there and work out, play my game.”

King doesn’t have the safety net of returning to school to fall back on like he did at this point last year, which has also fueled his rise up draft boards. He’s going to be a pro next season whether that’s in the NBA, G League or abroad.

“He’s definitely an NBA player,” English said. “I think he can have an impact on a good NBA team.”


Share your thoughts

Join the conversation

The Comment section is only for diehard members

Open comments +

Scroll to next article

Don't like ads?
Don't like ads?
Don't like ads?