May 13, 2018, 7:34 pm
2017-18 averages: 22 G | 6 GS | 15.6 MP | 4.7 PTS | 3.5 REB | 0.4 AST | 0.4 STL | 1.0 BLK | 0.4 TOV | 54.3 FG% | 50.0 3P% | 62.5 FT% |
JaKarr Sampson only played in 22 games for the Kings this season, but you knew he was on the floor in every single one of those games purely because of the way he plays. Sampson ensured he was playing at 110 percent every minute he was out there this season, and it’s something he’s done throughout his brief three-year NBA career.
Sampson spent the entire 2016-17 season in the G-League, trying to work his way back into the NBA. He joined the Kings in Summer League and didn’t disappoint, out working opponents on the floor and earning himself a two-way contract as a result.
Sampson, though, did spent most of his time in the G-League again this season, but this time it was different. Being signed to a two-way contract meant he could bounce back and forth between Sacramento and Reno at the organization’s discretion.
The 25-year-old played in 35 games for the Bighorns, posting averages of 17.9 points and 7.1 rebounds in 28.7 minutes per game (51.1 percent shooting). Sampson had a big hand in the team winning the Pacific Division, finishing with an overall record of 29-21. The Bighorns, however, would fall in the conference semi-finals to the South Bay Lakers.
Here’s some highlights from JaKarr’s season down in Reno:
Sampson wasn’t an overly productive piece for the Kings, but he did have multiple game-changing moments throughout the course of the season. Timely blocks, big rebounds and some genuinely good defense helped push the team in a positive direction in certain games but he can only do so much.
One of his most notable performances this season came against the Cleveland Cavaliers in Sampson’s hometown. He reeled in 16 rebounds and played some superb defense on the game’s most talented player, LeBron James – even James expressed praise for Sampson’s efforts:
Sampson has had to work his way through the ranks to get where he is today and it’s no surprise to see him play well when given the opportunity. He was probably deserving of more minutes, especially at the expense of someone like Zach Randolph, but Dave Joerger ultimately decided to dish those minutes to the likes of Skal Labissiere and Willie Cauley-Stein.
Hoop Ball’s Nick Avila went into more detail about Sampson’s situation back in February, discussing why he deserves more playing time and an extended look.
It’s unclear, at this stage, whether Sampson will remain with the team moving forward. Barring a more appealing offer elsewhere, he likely plays summer league for the Kings in July. For what it’s worth he’s still working out at the Kings’ practice facility, per social media.
Sampson, undoubtedly, adds value for the Kings. He’s not going to score a ton of points each game but he’s going to do all the dirty work. Sampson’s a guy that you can certainly keep around at an affordable rate, so there isn’t much to lose there for Sacramento.