SACRAMENTO — Kristaps Porzingis was very high on the Kings’ draft board last June and assistant general manager Mike Bratz probably would have taken him first overall if the team had owned that draft position, coach George Karl said.

“Our guys love him,” he added before Thursday night’s game against the Knicks.

The Kings had the sixth pick and took Kentucky center Willie Cauley-Stein, who is sidelined with a dislocated right index finger. Karl said that right now, the Rookie of the Year award is between Porzingis and another former Kentucky big man, Karl-Anthony Towns.

“Right now he seems to have more polish, more confidence to his game and definitely has a lot of weapons,” he said of Porzingis. “A lot of people thought he’d get worn out a little bit. I haven’t seen that yet. He’s not going to be a physical player. He’s not going to be pushed around, either. I think he has a little Dirk to him.”

Williams back in Sac

Derrick Williams was in a very unstable environment last season, playing for three coaches for the Kings. He never considered returning and wasn’t high on Sacramento’s list in free agency. Williams met with the Knicks, Mavericks and Wizards and said he wanted to play for Phil Jackson’s team.

“That was an environment I wanted to be in, a winning environment,” said Williams, who signed a two-year, $10- million deal. “You know what he brings, I know what he expects. Just growing up being from Los Angeles, you get that sense, they expect winning. With Phil and everybody being gone out of Los Angeles right now, you really feel that. I wanted to come. Even though we were down the last couple of years as well, I wanted to help turn things around.”

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All-Star stuff

Voting for the NBA All-Star Game in Toronto kicked off at 2 p.m. Thursday. Fans can vote on NBA.com, SMS text, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and through Google Search.

Some have speculated that Porzingis might have a chance to make it because his fans in Latvia, Spain — where he played the last few years — and New York could stuff the ballots.