While the emphasis of the 2017-2018 campaign centered around the development of the youngsters more than anything else, I wanted to take some time to look at the two-way players of the season.
Two-way players were introduced early this season, where teams were granted two additional roster spots. These two-way players would be involved with both the NBA team and the team’s “G-League” affiliate. Players on this two-way contract have 45 days that they can spend with the NBA team, while the other days would be spent in the G-League.
For the Sacramento Kings, they utilized their two-way contracts on Jack Cooley and JaKarr Sampson.
Jack Cooley instantly became a fan-favorite during his time at the Las Vegas Summer League this past summer. From the very first game when he came off the bench for Georgios Papagiannis, Cooley showed promise. He ended that first game with a double-double of 11 points and 10 rebounds. In five summer league appearances, Cooley averaged 9.2 points, 6.6 rebounds and shot 64% overall. He also earned his own chant which was so awesome and I couldn’t help but crack a laugh every time a chant broke out.
Cooley only played seven games for the Kings and averaged 5.7 points and 4.3 rebounds on 48% shooting. Cooley was primarily involved in the end of the season where he played in five of the final six games. He played one game for the Kings in 2017, too.
And as Tim mentioned previously, Cooley was one of the best rebounders of the season.
JaKarr Sampson reminded us of Quincy Acy when he played for the Kings Summer League team. Sampson was always the guy who was going to give his 100% on every play. In the season prior to joining the Kings, he played his G-League games for the Iowa Energy. How coincidental is that?
Sampson was more involved with the team than Cooley was but you could see why in the 22 total games he featured in for Sacramento. He averaged 4.7 points and 3.5 rebounds on 54% shooting. His most notable performance of the season came against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers, where Sampson scored six points and grabbed 16 rebounds (12 defensive). As much as I love watching Sampson play, he did frustrate me a lot. In the 103-97 loss to the Dallas Mavericks late March, the Kings were making a hot run to push for a win. Sampson had the ball off a turnover and had Buddy Hield wide open for a three, but opted to take it all the way to the basket and it didn’t work out.
However, no matter how frustrating he got, I couldn’t root against him. Because of his motor, you could expect a big block, a big dunk, or a straight-up hustle play coming from him at any given moment. He was a unique player for the team and if he works to improve his jump shot, he’ll be even better.
In a season full of ups and downs, debates about tanking or not tanking and everything in between, I’ll guarantee you this: You loved having these two guys on this team. Even if you only liked one of them, I’ll take it.