Ahead of the California Classic, Robert Woodard II might have been a name Sacramento Kings fans had forgotten about. His time with Sacramento in his rookie season was fleeting, playing in just six games before being flex-assigned to the Austin Spurs, the G League affiliate of San Antonio, for the bubble showcase in Florida.
Prior to his trip to the Sunshine State, Woodard grabbed 13 points and 8 rebounds total through six nights of action. The second round, 40th overall pick definitely developed in the G League setting, scoring 25 points on February 5th vs. the Memphis Hustle.
Returning to Sacramento following his time in the Bubble, Woodard played in seven more games and finished the NBA regular season with averages of 1.5 points and 1.2 rebounds through 13 games. The Summer League tournament provided flashes of development for Woodard and that progress is what I’m hoping to see bloom in his sophomore season.
Best-case: Sacramento can continue to develop the young forward.
Woodard showed some really good things alongside Davion Mitchell, Neemias Queta and Jahmi’us Ramsey in Las Vegas this summer. During the tournament, Woodard averaged 5.4 points and 5.2 rebounds through seven games. He was undoubtedly a contributing factor to their championship run, and I think a little more development could help Woodard blossom into a solidified NBA player sooner rather than later.
Where will that development exactly come from this season? Ideally, on the court — he needs minutes. Whether it be in Stockton or in Sacramento, I think Luke Walton and the coaching staff need to take a look at how they are developing these young players like Ramsey, Woodard and King. The #SummerKings thrived under newly-named Stockton Kings head coach Bobby Jackson, so it might actually make sense that the G League is where they continue to flourish.
Worst-case: It’s just Summer League.
I get excited over the development of all Sacramento’s players, whether they’re on our roster for five games in August or they’re franchise leaders who have their jersey in the rafters. With that said, I know how easy it to look at someone’s progress over a week among G League hopefuls and overanalyze. But I like Woodard’s game: he stretches the floor and can get up a highlight dunk like the best of them
With a Summer League championship under his belt, I’m hoping that could even be a morale boost when he gets DNPs or call-downs to Stockton.
Woodard, Ramsey and Tyrese Haliburton didn’t get a draft combine, they didn’t get a Summer League in their rookie year and training camp was cut in half, surrounding COVID-19 protocol and a weird NBA season at large. But Woodard’s “red shirt” of a rookie year could actually prove to benefit his growth in the long-run. I think looking at him as a true rookie alongside Queta and Mitchell will allow him the opportunity to re-identify himself on this roster and look to stick around in the NBA.