DeMarcus Cousins winces during a stoppage in play against the Phoenix Suns. (Photo: Jonathan Santiago)

Maturity and the Sacramento Kings haven’t necessarily gone hand in hand in recent years.  Around the NBA, the Kings have earned somewhat of a whiny reputation among their competitors and league officials.

Under the Kings’ new regime, that’s starting to change.  Part of head coach Michael Malone’s plan to revamp the Kings’ culture is by making sure players carry themselves with better poise and professionalism this year.

“I think it’s safe to say that we were – well over the years I’ve been here – we’ve had immature teams,” Kings big man Jason Thompson said after practice yesterday.  ”I think that’s what the difference is (now). You can just tell, from top to bottom, that guys are on top of their games when it comes to owners, coaches.

“No offense to the ones that I’ve had in the past,” Thompson added. “But I think that we’re all on the same page, we all know that we want to make changes here and we have goals for ourselves.  It’s definitely a reality now and not just talking about it.  We can eventually be about it.”

The Kings showed progress in the area of composure this preseason.  Through seven games, the Kings were one of a select few of teams that didn’t commit a technical foul during the exhibition season.  Coach Malone said drawing fewer techs is a “point of emphasis” for the Kings in his first season at the helm.

“We want to make sure that we’re keeping our composure, holding our poise at all times, not allowing anybody to take us out of our game and what we’re trying to accomplish,” Malone said.

The origins of the Kings’ new poise does comes from guys having another year of experience under their belts.  However, some of it also can be credited to improved structure surrounding them.

In past years, it was difficult for players to buy into what was being sold by previous coaches because of instability at the top.  With uncertainty about the franchise’s future in ownership and location behind, Malone has the added benefit of credibility on his side.

“I just think guys believe now,” Kings center DeMarcus Cousins said.  ”Previous seasons, I mean we never really knew where we were (going).  Like, it was just we were here.  It was really nothing to look forward to.  And now, we feel like we have something to look forward to.

“Like I said, guys – they believe,” Cousins added.  ”And they’re all in and we’re ready to go.”