If there was such a thing as a redshirt year in the NBA, Kings second-rounders Jahmi’us Ramsey and Robert Woodard lived it last season.
Without a Summer League, natural build up to training camp or a regular G League season, the two sat on the sidelines and watched a lot more than they played, at least until the G League bubble started.
The lack of playing time has clearly hurt Woodard’s development. He’s looked bulky and out of sorts in both Sacramento and Las Vegas. Ramsey had a similar start at the California Classic, but he was coming back from an ankle injury and he seems to have turned a corner.
“With Jahmi’us, he was hurt for like the last two months,” summer league and Stockton Kings head coach Bobby Jackson said following the team's 90-75 win over the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday. “The California Classic was the first time he’s played five-on-five. So he had to really get used to playing and get accustomed to how the game was played, the physicality. So those two games were really good for him.”
An honest assessment is that Ramsey didn’t look like an NBA player when he stepped on the court at the California Classic. He was slow to defend. He looked rough on the offensive end. His path to the league looked rocky.
“The big thing is that he kinda shook that off, he came out with confidence,” Jackson said. “We want to give him confidence to be able to shoot the ball, attack and play downhill and defend at a high level.”
Jackson spent plenty of time working with Ramsey last season and he knows the 20-year-old shooting guard is likely going to be his starting shooting guard in Stockton once the G League returns this season.
After watching him for the last three three games in the Las Vegas Summer League, Ramsey is now an intriguing prospect again. He came to the NBA as an offensive weapon, but he’s now using his athleticism on both ends of the court, which could be his ticket to the success in the league.
“I feel like I’m doing my part to help the team get the win, both on defense and offense,” Ramsey said. “Credit to my teammates, push ahead while I’m running and getting out in transition.”
While Ramsey said he hasn’t struggled with confidence issues, that doesn’t mean that he isn’t building off of his efforts and starting to show signs of growth. This is a player that played a total of 94 minutes over 13 games for the Kings last season. Both the Kings and Ramsey will need to be patient and stay the course.
His backcourt mate has seen signs of improvement and is excited for what Ramsey is bringing to the table.
“I’m really glad he’s getting his confidence back, he’s getting comfortable with the game,” Davion Mitchell said. “He’s really efficient, he’s playing defense, he’s doing everything to help this team win. Everyone is doing everything to help the team win, but Jahmi’us is playing really good.”
The efficiency on offense is what stands out. During the three games in Vegas, Ramsey is averaging 18 points on 51.4 percent shooting from the field and 41.2 percent from 3-point range. He’s also posted two steals per game and he’s showing effort.
Breaking into the rotation this season in Sacramento isn’t going to happen for Ramsey due to the team’s backcourt depth, but he is back on a path that could lead to positive things down the road.
He’s performed well enough to warrant a longer look and the fact that he’s doing this in front of Jackson should help with continuity when the two are together Stockton.
This is a new starting point for Ramsey. Hopefully he is able to take advantage of his strong play and build on it heading into training camp and the season ahead.