Kings

Sampson comes up huge in win over Bulls: 'He's just disruptive'

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AP

Sampson comes up huge in win over Bulls: 'He's just disruptive'

SACRAMENTO -- JaKarr Sampson isn’t used to the media storming his locker following a win. The 24-year-old has driven back and forth between Sacramento and Reno all season long as a two-way player. It’s not glamorous, but he’s always a phone call away from the show.

Monday night at Golden 1 Center, he was a difference maker in the Kings 104-98 win over the Chicago Bulls. It’s not the first time he’s come up big for Sacramento and it probably won’t be the last. 

“That’s what he does,” De’Aaron Fox said. “Every time he’s come up - I wanna say that first road trip when we played in Cleveland, he guarded LeBron (James) - he’s just disruptive. He grabs rebounds, he plays defense, he’s active on the offensive glass - it’s what he does and that’s the reason that he plays.”

With his team completely dead in the water against the Bulls, Dave Joerger turned to Sampson in hopes of finding a spark. The St. John’s University product instantly changed the energy level on the court, helping Sacramento climb out of a 21-point first half deficit.

“He’s awesome as far as what he brings to the part,” Joerger said. “6’-8” lively body, diving as far as from the perimeter, slashing and trying to get to the glass.”

The numbers don’t jump off the page - nine-points, six-rebounds and a block in 18 minutes of action. But he completely changed the momentum of a game with his hustle. 

“It just feels good just being out there and playing in front of these fans,” Sampson said with a huge smile. “They bring the juice and get me juiced up and do what I do best and pass it along to my teammates.”

Sampson loves to energize the crowd with a dunk. He hit the Bulls with a baseline hammer in the second quarter to help draw the Kings within 10. Two minutes later, Chicago’s Zach LaVine got him back on the other. 

“You’ve got to - that’s the ballgame, especially for someone who plays defense the way I play it and is gonna challenge any shot,” Sampson said following the game. “I don’t care about getting dunked on, I just care about making a right play and sacrificing my body for the team.”

LaVine put Sampson on a poster, but that’s the way the fourth-year forward plays. You don’t get any free passes around him. He’s always ready to challenge, even when there is little hope of stopping someone. 

With the Kings off for the next three days, the plan is for Sampson to head back to the Reno Bighorns on Tuesday. Joerger joked that he might have to change his travel plans, but with only 45 days to use Sampson with the parent club, the Kings have to be judicious with when they call him to Sacramento. 

If nothing else, Sampson has earned a long look with an NBA team next season, be it in Sacramento or elsewhere. He has the body to compete and the versatility to play either forward positions. He also brings his lunch pail and a huge smile to work every day. 

De'Aaron Fox roasts Fran Fraschilla over Zion Williamson, Duke tweet

De'Aaron Fox roasts Fran Fraschilla over Zion Williamson, Duke tweet

De'Aaron Fox isn't here for Fran Fraschilla's college basketball takes.

After Zion Williamson thanked the program in a video announcing his intention to declare for the 2019 NBA Draft, Fraschilla sent out a tweet noting how much he believed playing for Duke helped the phenom build his brand and profile.

Well, Fox didn't agree with the notion that Duke had a lot to do with boosting Zion's worth, and he threw some shade at Fraschilla in a NSFW tweet.

In fairness, both sides have a point to make.

A year ago, Williamson was a YouTube dunking sensation, but questions about his overall skill level remained. But during his lone season in the spotlight at Duke, Williamson showed he was more than just a highlight-reel dunker, and has all the skills necessary to be the No. 1 overall pick.

However, Williamson should've had the ability to go straight to the NBA out of high school if he wanted. He still would have been a top-10 pick, and a lucrative shoe contract would have followed shortly after his name was called by NBA commissioner Adam Silver.

[RELATED: Fox responds to comments about MIP candidacy]

We'll give the win to Swipa.

Kings awards: Handing out end-of-year accolades for 2018-19 season

Kings awards: Handing out end-of-year accolades for 2018-19 season

The Sacramento Kings failed in their ultimate goal of making the postseason, but that doesn’t mean that they didn’t have a very good year. The Kings finished the season at a surprising 39-43 and they stayed in playoff contention much longer than anyone expected.

Perhaps more important than the final outcome of the season, many of the young Kings players took major strides forward in their development. The core turning potential into production, making the future bright in Sacramento.

With the season in the books, here is NBC Sports California’s take on the end of year accolades for the team.

MVP -- Buddy Hield

Coming into training camp, Hield wasn’t expected to start. A late summer knee injury cost Bogdan Bogdanovic time, opening the door for a breakout season from the former Oklahoma star.

Known for his work ethic, Hield became more than just a scorer in his third NBA season. He improved as a defender, posted a career-high in assists and rebounds, and showed an ability to hit big shots.

Hield also led the team in scoring, finishing the year averaging 20.7 points, five rebounds and 2.5 assists in 31.9 minutes per game. He flourished from behind the arc, posting the seventh most made 3-pointers in a single season in NBA history with 276 makes.

The 26-year-old shooting guard took a leap from potential sixth man to near All-Star and his energy on the court was infectious.

De’Aaron Fox is in the running for this award as well, but Hield gets the nod for his consistency throughout the entire season.

Most Improved Player -- De’Aaron Fox

Fox and Hield should both draw votes for the NBA’s Most Improved Player award. As far as the Kings’ team goes, it’s close, but with Hield taking home the MVP, Fox gets the MIP.

Statistical jumps from year one to year two is expected in the NBA, but Fox’s leap stands out. He bumped his points per game from 11.6 to 17.3. He increased his assists from 4.4 to 7.3, with just a .4 increase in turnovers per game. He also shored up one of his biggest weaknesses, improving his 3-point percentage from 30.7 to 37.1 percent.

In addition to all of his statistical achievements, Fox became a leader in year two and appears ready to expand his game even farther in year three.

Defensive Player of the Year -- De’Aaron Fox

Fox wasn’t just a force leading the Kings’ uptempo offense. He showed incredible improvement as a defender in year two, especially in late-game situations.

The 21-year-old point guard has tremendous upside as a two-way player. He finished the season in the top 10 in the league in steals at 1.6 per game and as he gets stronger and more mature, there is plenty of room for growth.

Willie Cauley-Stein gets an honorable mention here. He led the team in defensive real plus/minus and defensive win shares. He put up a solid season, posting career-highs in both rebounds and blocks.

Biggest Surprise -- Nemanja Bjelica

A late addition to the roster, Bjelica stepped into the starting lineup and made a tremendous impact on the Kings, especially early in the season.

The 30-year-old out of Serbia almost went back overseas before signing a three-year deal with the Kings. He posted career-highs in points, rebounds, assists, blocks and minutes played, and shot over 40 percent from behind the arc.

Bjelica struggled for a stretch in the middle of the season, but he finished strong. His ability to help space the floor was a major bonus for the team and he was a better rebounder and defensive player than expected.

[RELATED: Fox responds to comments about his most improved candidacy]

Rookie of the Year -- Marvin Bagley

This isn’t exactly a fair category. Marvin Bagley was the second overall selection in the 2018 NBA Draft and his only competition for the award was a redshirt freshman who had played a total of 300 minutes over a three-year period.

Don’t get me wrong, Harry Giles was very impressive, especially in the month of March after he got his sea legs. Giles looks like a rotational player at a minimum, with the possibility to jump into the starting lineup down the road. But he’ll need time to develop after missing crucial development years.

Bagley jumped off the page from the moment he stepped foot on the floor. He needs to get stronger and build his overall skill base, but the 20-year-old power forward averaged 14.9 points, 7.6 rebounds and a block in 25.3 minutes per game.

A pair of knee injuries cost Bagley 20 games and plenty of momentum. A summer to work out the kinks should do wonders for the former Duke star.