Following a win over the Phoenix Suns to open up the preseason, the Sacramento Kings held another day of practice in preparation for the new year.
DeMarcus Cousins challenged by fellow Kings bigs
The Kings starting center was seen icing his right ankle and left wrist when media viewing began at practice Thursday. Nothing to be concerned about according to Kings head coach Keith Smart. Cousins just experienced some light bumps and contact, so they took precautionary measures and rested the 22-year-old big man for the remainder of practice.
“He did his work,” Smart said. ”We had an early work going on within 5-on-5 (drills), so he had done his work there. We just want to make sure (those bumps are) not going to linger. We wanted to jump on top of that right away.”
Smart added that the Kings’ fellow bigs are doing a good job of challenging Cousins, which is forcing him to elevate his game. This should be beneficial for Cousins considering the number of talented big men that reside in the Pacific Division.
“I just think they’re doing a job of making him have to work in practice because that’s what he’s going to find in games,” Smart said. ”He’s going to play against size and length in games. And guys are going to push on him and we have some guys that are pretty hungry that’s gonna play hard every play for the most part.”
Jimmer Fredette out to prove he can defend
As the first reserve off the bench, the second-year guard put together an impressive performance, playing assertively in the victory over the Suns. Fredette not only played with purpose on offense, but he’s also impressed on defense.
Fredette is aware of the perception that he’s not a great defender. This year, he seems poised to prove doubters wrong.
“It’s something that you have to work hard just to (break),” Fredette said of his reputation as a poor defender. “That’s a focus of mine this year to be aggressive on both the defensive end and offensive end.”
Credit the competition Fredette has to face on a daily basis for elevating his game. In practice, he’s having to play against a variety of talented guards in Tyreke Evans, Isaiah Thomas and Aaron Brooks.
“You have three types of player that you’re playing against,” said Fredette of his teammates. ”All different, but all very, very capable players and can really score the basketball. So it’s been good to really go against them.”
Chuck Hayes sees improvement in team communication
It’s still early, but the veteran power forward sees progress in aspects that troubled the Kings last season. Specifically, he pointed out that they’re talking more, especially on defense.
“So many teams, they throw so many wrinkles and different scenarios and counters, that you have to talk,” Hayes said. ”And if you don’t talk, you get caught blind-sided and you get an open three, an open layup.”
Off the floor, they have a better understanding of each other as well. Hayes mentioned that they’ve been more receptive to constructive criticism, taking feedback from one another less personally and more positively.
Their improved communication was evident in their preseason win on Wednesday. Hayes thinks they’re on the track as far as progress is concerned, but still knows that they have a long season ahead of them.
“We’ve had games like that before,” Hayes told reporters Thursday afternoon. ”Then we come out and be absent for the next two or three games. So, that’s part of this league – doing it on a consistent basis.”