In a surprise move, the Sacramento Kings raised the screen yesterday and allowed media more than two hours of on-court basketball viewing. The results were mixed, but who cares? Basketball is back and the Kings had 15-healthy players, none of whom looked like they had gained any major weight during an extended off-season.
- None to report.
Coaches Notes and Quotes
- Coach Paul Westphal on the conditioning of his players: “Better than I feared, but still with a long way to go. I would say the three rookies are in very good shape. I think that J.J. Hickson looked like he was in top shape. Everything is subject to wind, because the NBA wind is different than being in shape, but he’s (Hickson) really ready to go with a couple of days. I thought that Tyreke and DeMarcus did a pretty good job of keeping their weight down and getting in shape. Their timing, especially Tyreke’s timing is off, but he looked like he’s in decent shape. Marcus Thornton is in pretty good shape. In general, it’s much better than I feared.”
- On Jimmer’s first practice: “He looked real good. He looked very comfortable. He’s a very intelligent basketball player and the guys like playing with him because he’s a very good passer.”
- On how Jimmer changes Tyreke’s role: “Jimmer’s presence, along with John Salmons and Marcus Thornton, all of those guys can handle, shoot and pass, and the more players you have like that, the better it is for Tyreke.”
- On Chuck Hayes: “He’s a winner. He’s a veteran who helps his team win and he doesn’t care how he does it. He guards the toughest guy. He’s a very creative passer from the high post – it’s like having another point guard out there. He’s just a tough customer. He’s someone the rest of the players respect and like playing with.”
Players Notes and Quotes
- Jimmer Fredette on playing his first game at Power Balance Pavilion: “I’m really excited. I’ve heard it’s an unbelievable crowd, very loud. I haven’t actually been in there when there’s been a game. I’ve been to NBA games before but not at Power Balance Pavilion and I’m really looking forward to playing for our fans, putting on a good show and win some games.”
- Jimmer on whether basketball feels like a job now that he is in the NBA: “No, not at all, basketball is fun. Maybe some things outside of basketball is what makes it feel like a job, but basketball itself, I love it so much, it just feels like a game. You want to compete. You want to be a competitor and play as hard as you can.”
- DeMarcus Cousins on playing next to Chuck Hayes versus Samuel Dalembert: “They’re basically the same player – defensive minded. Chuck’s just shorter. They’re basically the same player, Chuck just can’t block shots but he stays in front better.”
- Owner Joe Maloof was in attendance. He sat along the sideline near center court and watched practice before leaving 10-15 minutes after the curtain was raised for the media. He then returned and sat with the Kings front office brain trust of Geoff Petrie, Wayne Cooper and Shareef Abdur-Rahim. No sighting of Gavin.
For a first day of camp, things went well. Last season, the Kings came into camp with Tyreke Evans hobbled with plantar fasciitis issues, while Samuel Dalembert missed almost all of it with a strained adductor. As far as on-court action, here are a couple of my observations.
- Jimmer Fredette has some very nice passing skills. He looks for cutters and back cuts which his teammates are going to love. From day one, you can tell that he has a very high basketball IQ and might even be the Kings best passer. Not all was peaches and cream though. Jimmer has a bad habit of leaving his feet to pass. He learned quickly that at the NBA level, those passes are turnovers, even on the first day of training camp. For day one, he had no major defensive lapses which is a good sign.
- Isaiah Thomas is very quick. That isn’t an astute observation, Thomas is known for his quickness, but I like the way he uses his it to stay in front of his man.
- The depth of this Kings team is incredible, and they might not be done adding players. The second unit of Jimmer, Garcia, Greene, Hickson and Thompson was impressive. The Kings used Greene a lot to bring the ball up and initiate the offense with Jimmer and Garcia flanking him on the wings. Thompson and Hickson are both aggressive hustle players which compliment the skill of the perimeter players.
- Most of the Kings were in great shape. Tyreke looked leaner than he did at the Goon Squad Classic, but like Westphal said, he probably could lose a few pounds. Hickson and Thompson both looked to be in the best shape of their careers and all three rookies looked ready to play.
- Chuck Hayes is a beast. I can see Kings fans falling in love with this guy from day one. He sets nasty picks (which Donté Greene learned the hard way) and he is the type of leader the Kings need desperately. Because of his height and weight, long time Kings fans are going to have flashbacks of Byron Houston. But don’t be fooled, Chuck Hayes can ball and according to Coach Westphal, he will start alongside Cousins when the season opens.
- On that note, Kings fans will be happy to hear that Coach Westphal thinks he has his starting five already picked out for opening night. Tyreke Evans and Marcus Thorton will anchor the backcourt, with Salmons on the wing and the duo of Cousins and Hayes in the post.