SACRAMENTO -- The NBA is all about opportunity. For young players trying to break into the league, it may only knock once or twice ever and it’s the player that seizes that moment that usually finds a home.
Kings fans were reminded of this fact on more than one front Wednesday evening at Golden 1 Center. Late in the game, former Kings draft pick, Malachi Richardson, stepped onto the court for cleanup duty. Selected by Sacramento with the 22nd overall selection in the 2016 NBA Draft, Richardson looked like a keeper midway through his rookie season and then he tore a hamstring muscle.
The injury lingered into the offseason of 2017 and then Richardson had another setback in Las Vegas Summer League. By the time he was ready to compete for minutes, the Kings had already moved forward with a different group of youngsters.
Richardson’s opportunity had come and gone in Sacramento. He was shipped to the Raptors at the deadline later that season for Bruno Caboclo.
So far this season, Richardson has played in seven contests for a total of 35 minutes for Toronto. At 22-years-old, there is still time for him to make his mark in the league, but whether he gets another real opportunity to shine is unknown.
While Richardson made a late appearance in the final two minutes against the Kings in the Raptors 114-105 win, another young player trying to secure a home in the league was adding to his highlight reel.
The Kings inked Troy Williams to a two-way contract during the first week of the season and so far, he’s remained with the parent team and is making an impact.
Against the Raptors, Williams scored seven points on a perfect 3-for-3 from the field, including a pair of huge dunks. He added three rebounds and two assists while playing tough defense in 14 minutes of action.
“It’s what they ask of me - just to be versatile, just to be athletic, just to defend multiple people,” Williams told NBC Sports California. “What I focus on is how I can help this team defensively before anything else.”
The sample size is small, but through four appearances this season with Sacramento, the 23-year-old wing is producing at a high level and stealing minutes from players on the regular roster. He’s bringing an intensity to both ends of the floor while averaging 8.3 points on 66.7 percent shooting from both the field and the 3-point line.
“It’s hard, I’ll figure out what I want to do here in the rotation wise,” Dave Joerger said. “He comes in and he gives us some pop and I like that both defensively and offensively. He gets a couple of dunks, he gets a couple of cuts. You notice him and he makes an impact in that way.”
After going undrafted out of Indiana in 2016, the 6-foot-7 small forward has moved from one team to the next looking for a chance to play. Signed originally by the Memphis Grizzlies, Williams is on his fifth team in three seasons, including stops with the Rockets, Knicks and Pelicans.
“The right opportunity, the right fit, that’s with anybody, that’s everybody, especially people that took the road that I took, being undrafted,” Williams said. “You just get in where you fit in.”
He’s in a roster crunch in Sacramento, but that hasn’t stopped Williams from performing every time he steps on the court.
As a two-way player, the Kings can use him for up to 45 days before having to make a decision on his future with the team. If he continues to earn rotational minutes and help the team, the decision will only get tougher for the Kings’ brass.
Sacramento currently has 15 players under contract. If they hope to add Williams to the regular roster, another player would have to be traded or waived. Luckily there is time to make a decision.