His shots are falling, his minutes are up and his confidence seems to be on the rise.
Justin Jackson’s rookie season was a struggle, but he’s beginning to show why Kings coach Dave Joerger remained patient and maintained a belief that his second-year small forward had more to offer.
“Each and every day, I just keep the same mindset,” Jackson said. “You’re going to have some off games, you’re going to have some good games, but just continue to try to play as hard as I possibly can and do whatever I need to do for the team, and things will come eventually.”
The Kings (13-12) will conclude a four-game trip against the Bulls (6-21) on Monday night in Chicago. If the recent trend continues, Jackson can expect to see 20-plus minutes.
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Jackson averaged 6.7 points and 2.8 rebounds last season while shooting 44.2 percent from the field and an abysmal 30.8 percent from 3-point range. This season, he’s shooting 45.9 percent overall and 36.2 percent from beyond the arc.
Jackson shot just 20.7 percent from long distance over the first eight games, but he has improved considerably since Nov. 1. He has been especially good over the past 10 games, making 28 of 50 (56 percent) field-goal attempts and 14 of 27 (.519) from 3-point range.
“He’s making some shots,” Joerger said. “I think that makes him feel good. I think everybody (feels) the power of positive reinforcement of a made basket, and to see a couple of shots go down, I think that feels good and other areas of your game become better as well.”
Decision day looming for Williams
The Kings might not have envisioned this kind of role for Troy Williams when they signed him to a two-way contract in October, but the spark he provides off the bench will force the organization to make a difficult decision in the days ahead.
Two-way players are permitted to spend up to 45 days with their NBA team. The rest of their season must be spent with the team’s G League affiliate. Williams hasn’t spent a day with the Kings’ G League team in Stockton, and his time with the parent club is almost up.
Williams, a 6-foot-7 small forward, is averaging 6.4 points and 2.7 rebounds, shooting 49.3 percent from the field and 41.2 percent from 3-point range. He often gives the team a lift with his energy and has used his athleticism to make a number of highlight-reel plays.
“I like him,” Joerger said. “I think he’s good for us. He’s different from what we have (in terms of) size, energy and athleticism. He comes in a different package, and I think you definitely sit up in your seat when he comes in the game because he can make a play.”
General manager Vlade Divac said Williams will exhaust his 45 days of service with the Kings on or around Dec. 20. At that time, the Kings can either send Williams to Stockton or sign him to a standard NBA contract, but that would require the team to create a roster spot.
“I know it’s coming up, but I don’t even think about it, honestly,” Williams said. “I’ve just been trying to focus on the game ahead.”
Bagley learns from bad outing
Rookie big man Marvin Bagley III has been sensational in recent weeks, but his performance against the Indiana Pacers on Saturday night might have been the worst of his promising young career.
Bagley contributed four points and two rebounds before fouling out with 5:18 left. He committed five fouls in his first six minutes.
Bagley, who averaged 16.4 points and 8.7 rebounds in his previous seven games, said he would review game film in an effort to correct his mistakes. Joerger described it as a “good learning experience” for Bagley.
“You just learn from it and move on,” Joerger said. “Put that in your hat and go, ‘OK, I’ve seen that.’ It’s one of those rookie games you hope you never have to have, but I think everybody has one of those stinkers and it was just one of those nights for him.”