YOU HAVE the choice between Max King and Connor Rozee. Who do you take?

This isn't an AFL Fantasy decision. It's a crucial call that faced St Kilda at the end of 2018 when the Saints, with pick No.4 at the NAB AFL Draft, mulled their options.

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Although others such as King's twin brother Ben and midfield pair Bailey Smith and Jye Caldwell were considered if the Saints traded back a few spots, in the end the Saints chose between King and Rozee.

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Internally discussion was strong. The Saints knew Rozee, who had just dominated at SANFL level in the finals series and played in North Adelaide's senior premiership, would perform straight away at AFL level. Then coach Alan Richardson was leaning in favour of Rozee.

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They also knew King would likely barely play at AFL level in year one after his knee reconstruction during his draft season. But it came down to what the Saints needed more: a marking forward or a speedy midfielder?

They settled on King, the 202cm key forward who grew up a Saints supporter, to lead their forward line for the next decade, also knowing there were doubts on Paddy McCartin's fitness (he suffered another concussion months into King's time at St Kilda that ended his career, at least for now).

Having overseen King's rehabilitation program at St Kilda, the club was confident about his recovery from the ACL injury.

Rozee, also a Saints fan who was comfortable with heading to Victoria, went the next pick to Port (who would likely have taken King if he was available). He has been a sensation, finishing second in last year's NAB AFL Rising Star, leading Port's goalkicking in his debut season, and looking a long-term star of the competition.

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But King is now making his mark – literally. Five games into his AFL career, the Saints forward is already a key part of St Kilda's attack and an important reason to their flourishing form so far in 2020.

"This is only his second year, but he didn't really play much last year so we're just seeing what he can really do athletically and when he's going for the ball," Saints forwards coach and Port Adelaide premiership big man Brendon Lade told AFL.com.au.

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"He understands he's still got a bit to learn about the game, but his raw potential is as good as anyone I've seen."

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So far this season King has averaged three marks and booted seven goals, including two last week in the Saints' comprehensive win over Carlton. The 20-year-old outpointed in-form Blues defender Jacob Weitering several times in the air.

"We thought the first half he definitely beat Weitering and he even set up a few other goals as well," Lade said.

"All the crumbers are loving his contest work, he rarely gets outmarked, and they love it when the ball's dropping when he doesn't mark it. It's predictable so it's easier for us to score and pressure the opposition."

After last year's interruptions – King played five games in the VFL before injuring his ankle – it was over summer that his talents came to the fore at Moorabbin. And a new Saints recruit couldn't stop him.

Max King and Jake Carlisle in battle during St Kilda's intraclub. Picture: Getty Images

"It's the marking that really grabs your attention. There was a couple of times at training when he just went vertical and went up. Dougal Howard's our most athletic defender and even he couldn't get anywhere near him. That's pretty scary," Lade said.

Lade, who played in the Power's 2004 triumph alongside key forward Warren Tredrea, and coached Tiger Jack Riewoldt and Port's Charlie Dixon during assistant stint at the respective clubs, says King offers a different mix.

Lade and four-time Hawthorn premiership forward Jarryd Roughead, who joined the Saints and has been working with the club's key-position players, have been working on King to use his speed and strength.

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"He's a different person, he loves his footy and all of that, but he loves hanging out with his mates, so trying to find ways to connect with him is a lot of what 'Roughy' and I have been doing," Lade said.

"The big thing Rough has been teaching him in this area has been when to release from the defender, when to jump at the ball, how much work you have to do before you get a run and jump at it."

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Already Roughead's influence has stood out on King. The young Saint entered last week's win over Carlton with a freshly shaved haircut after losing a goalkicking bet with the former Hawk.

Max King - with that new trim - celebrates a goal against Carlton in round five. Picture: AFL Photos

The trim may or may not be a constant, but King's spot within the Saints' attack is locked in for some time yet.

"Rough's had a couple of goalkicking comps with a few players and they've come out on the wrong end," Lade said. "Max lost that and he paid his bet up and he did it, and he actually doesn't mind his haircut now."