He’s not likely to become the league’s next great superstar nor is he a player with borderline All-Star potential. As a guard who went undrafted in this year’s NBA Draft, Lockett knows that he’ll have to carve out a career by playing a role at the next level.
His understanding of who and what he is caught the attention of the Sacramento Kings, who decided to sign the 22-year-old out of Marquette to a deal yesterday. Lockett’s addition comes on the heels of impressing Kings coaches and front office personnel as a member of the franchise’s Summer League team last month.
“I’m just trying to do anything to win the game,” Lockett told Cowbell Kingdom of his playing style following the Kings’ second Summer League contest against the Toronto Raptors in July. “Whether it’s crashing the defensive rebound or knocking down open shots when the shot clock gets low, maybe create an open shot for yourself, but really anything to help the team.”
By no means were Lockett’s Summer League stats anything to write home about. In five games, the Kings guard averaged just seven points, 1.6 rebounds and 1.6 assists in 20.2 minutes per contest. What Lockett did well in Las Vegas wasn’t measured by numbers. He showed solid communication skills on the court, especially on the defensive end, and was praised by coaches for his basketball IQ.
On the 101st episode of the Cowbell Kingdom Podcast, new assistant coach and director of player development Dee Brown likened Lockett’s play to that of the Oklahoma City Thunder’s Thabo Sefolosha. During Summer League, fellow new assistant Chris Jent described Lockett as “a coach’s player”.
“Every systematic thing that you do, he knows it,” Jent told Cowbell Kingdom last month. “He knows your terminology. He applies what he learns in your system on the floor.
“He’s a very heady player,” Jent added. “He’s a smart kid out there on the floor. He’s kind of like a second court general out there. He’s good.”
For Lockett to have success in the NBA, he’ll likely have to find a role as a defender and 3-point specialist. That’s okay by him considering he’s seen players like Sefolosha and the San Antonio Spurs’ Danny Green chisel out meaningful careers with concentrated skill-sets.
“I definitely enjoy watching Danny Green succeed and especially in the playoffs this year because I’m not coming in here trying to be Carmelo (Anthony) or Kobe (Bryant),” Lockett said. “I know that’s not my role and I know I do have a role in the NBA.”
The Kings have loaded up on talent the last few years. Seven seasons out of the playoffs tends to lead to some pretty high draft picks. What the new regime is looking for now are complimentary pieces to their talented cornerstones. Signing someone like Lockett reinforces that trend.
“The free agents that are there playing are not going to make our team being a star,” Jent said last month of players like Lockett on their Summer League roster. “You’re gonna make our team being a role player. So it’s great that he does (know that) and because we know wholeheartedly we’re not looking for a free agent to be a starter.
“We want them to fill a need on our basketball team and you always need smart guys, hard workers, so that’s what he is,” Jent continued. “And hopefully, that will breed him some opportunity.”