When Jakarr Sampson decided to leave St. John's for the pro ranks, he mentioned that he felt that he could develop faster in the NBA or D-League.
What we've learned: he may develop faster in the pros than in college, but right now, he is still a bundle of potential that needs a lot of development.
Playing only in the second half, Jakarr Sampson had a rough start to his NBA career on Monday night, playing in the Sixers' 98-78 preseason loss [box score] to the Boston Celtics.
In 16 minutes of play, Sampson took two shots - one in the paint area, and a long two-pointer (which could have been a three-pointer in college) - missing both.
Sampson added two steals and a defensive rebound, gave a nice screen at one point, but was on the floor when the Celtics took over the game in the second half.
Sampson has up to seven more opportunities to impress the Philadelphia 76ers and earn a bench spot over forwards like St. Joseph's grad (and one-time St. John's commit) Ronald Roberts, but he has an uphill battle.
At times, Sampson looked as if the game was moving too quickly for him - lost in defensive no-man's land or unable to provide spacing as a decoy. His role seemed to be to let other players create while crashing the glass. He ran to the rim in anticipation of some offensive rebounds, and that was a positive in his game.
But his turnover involved him grabbing a steal and trying to dribble behind his back while boxed by two players. That did not work, and the ball was taken away by Celtics' forward Brandon Bass.
And once he was assigned to the Celtics' Evan Turner, Sampson struggled badly to defend on the perimeter, getting crossed over, falling after a pick, and generally unable to contain the smaller Turner without help.
These are aspects of Sampson's game that need to improve if he is going to stick on the Sixers. He has time to improve them; and could get better at those aspects of the game in Delaware with the D-League team as well.
Hard work and training may just get him to the point where he can defend on the perimeter - a skill he did not work on extensively in college, being 6'9".
Along with improving his defense, Sampson needs to be stronger through picks, more aware defensively (he played off of former Kentucky wing James Young on a few possessions, leaving him wide open for a three-pointer), and needs to be able to punish defenders who sag off of him with three-point jumpers.
But the Sixers see his potential, keeping him around through training camp, and we at the Rumble wish him luck.