JaKarr Sampson, like many prospects from the Big East Conference, was not selected in the 2014 NBA Draft. But, much like some of his fellow undrafted rookies, he was signed as a free agent by the Philadelphia 76ers. In the summer league, he averaged 8.2 points and 4.8 rebounds per game in five contests while coming off of the bench.
However, by the time the summer league playoffs came around, Sampson was nowhere to be found.
During his time on the team, the 6-foot-8, 214 pound small forward was only given nine minutes of time in his opening game back on July 5 and scored one point while grabbing four rebounds. In the following game, Sampson was given 27 minutes of play, his most of the entire summer league season, and failed to really make an impact. One of the main parts of the Akron, Ohio native’s game is his athleticism and Sampson was not really able to get into a comfort zone in this game. He finished with eight points, four rebounds a block and a steal.
Minutes became much more consistent over the next three games as Sampson played an average of about 20 minutes over that span and looked to have turned a corner. He finished his third game against Houston with 13 points, with a pristine mark (5-5 FG) from the field and eight rebounds, which was his best line of the summer. On both ends, he was able to make a solid impact on the boards in addition to putting up good offensive numbers that are expected from a player with the raw talent Sampson has. On July 11, against the Memphis Grizzlies, Sampson played well again as he matched his summer league high of 13 points to go along with four rebounds.
For Philadelphia, players like Nerlens Noel, Jordan McCrae and KJ McDaniels all really stepped up for the Sixers during the summer, which hurt Sampson’s chances of staying with the team. Players at Sampson’s position were able to establish themselves more during the early games and in the tournament as well, which prompted the franchise to let the St. John’s product go.
Sampson was seen as a raw talent and more of a project coming into the draft. After being undrafted and not finishing the summer league with a team it is difficult to see where he can fit in with an NBA franchise at this point in time. There are teams that could use him as a possible forward off the bench like the Orlando Magic, Los Angeles Lakers or Brooklyn Nets, but taking on a project like Sampson may not be worth it based on what he has done so far.
There are some upsides though if one of those teams or another wants to take a chance on the small forward. He will not cost teams too much money, so financially he is worth a shot. Sampson also has the talent and physical tools that can catch a team’s eye. Players like Sampson always seem to get at least a second look.
However, the problem will be what he is worth as a player for the here and now. Can Sampson provide enough immediate help to a team that they will feel comfortable holding on to him? When front offices look at Sampson and see that he was not drafted in addition to being let go from a team after five summer league games, it does not bode well for him.
The future for Sampson may not look bright, but that same goes for many prospects and some of those players will make NBA rosters this season. It is all about the right situation and team that is interested in what Sampson can possibly do in the future. If he continues to develop there is no doubt an NBA if not, a team overseas will see his worth.