Akognon – Who?


Those who watched the Sacramento Kings play the Los Angeles Lakers in Summer League were surprised by a relative unknown player, Akognon, who led the Kings to their 84-72 win on Saturday with 25 points. This was the second game for the Kings in Las Vegas, this summer.

Akognon’s performance against the Lakers was a surprise because most fans’ eyes were focused on recent draft pick Thomas Robinson, who was selected 5th in the first round and also Jimmer Fredette who was drafted 10th in 2011. Some were wondering if Robinson and Fredette would be a dynamic duo in their first outings together. After the defeat to the Bobcats, the question centered around whether Robinson and Fredette would rebound against their rival. Akognon didn’t enter the conversation.

For Robinson, who many hope will pair together with DeMarcus Cousins to form a dynamic frontcourt, Las Vegas was his first opportunity to get his feet wet on NBA turf.  Cousins, who was in Las Vegas, a member of the Select Team practicing with the newly selected Olympic Team, attended the Summer League games to watch his teammates and offer his support.

Although Fredette struggled last season in his rookie year, there were hopes the Summer League would give him a jolt of confidence to help him get a refreshed start for the season. It was obvious in the earlier game against the Bobcats, Fredette was struggling with the ghosts of last season.

So, the table was set for the outing against Los Angeles. The main course of Robinson, lightly roasted, along with the side dish of Fredette, were anticipated with sprinklings of spice. No one expected the fiery dessert, Akognon style!

While Robinson had a good game finishing with 14 points and 12 rebounds, helping to ease the loss to the Bobcats, Fredette got it going with 15 points out of 11 attempts. Not too bad, and it helped to erase the bad taste left the day before.

The admiratio for the evening went to Akognon, whose unanticipated performance bewildered many who watched. Who was this relative unknown who stole the show out from under former college star Jimmer Fredette, people pondered.

A former Cal State Fullerton guard, 26-year-old Joshua Emmanuel Akognon, seemed to be making the most of his opportunity to showcase his skills in the Summer League. Last year at this time his dreams were cut short with the NBA lockout. He had an important career decision to make then:

"Akognon could continue being a rock star in China.In April (2011), Akognon finished a 39-game schedule with the DongGuan Leopards of the Chinese Basketball Association. He averaged 29.2 points a game, made 55.6 percent of his field goals and had four games over 40 points, one of them 54 points. All those numbers created the following Mick Jagger experience."

Akognon was a hero in China, where basketball reigns; here he is just trying to get noticed.  In the 2011/2012 season he played in the Canton D-League, where the institution of small sample size shows he averaged 25.5 points per 40 minutes.

Josh was also voted the Pac-10’s “Most Underrated Player”back in his college days, in an article that reportedly ran in Sports Illustrated.

Let’s put Akognon’s performance in perspective. This is NBA Summer League, not the NBA Playoffs. It is an opportunity for new draft picks, players looking to get picked up by a team, and other young NBA players, whose coaches  feel will benefit, get some experience before the season begins and display their talents.

Akognon got noticed in Las Vegas.

The Kings have another game today, Monday, July 16, at 3:30 pm, against the Houston Rockets, in Las Vegas. It will be interesting to see how the team plays today, coming off a win. Whether the Kings end up signing Akognon is unknown. A quick look at the twitter threads, show he is in the conversation. He has been given the opportunity – Carpe Diem.