Kings practice: Smart on his rotation, Thornton on developing more skills and other notes

The Sacramento Kings held Wednesday practice in preparation of Thursday’s game against the Los Angeles Clippers.  Below, some notes, observations and video.

Thornton trying to round out his game

Averaging 18.3 points per game, Thornton has proven he can score, especially in bunches and from deep.  Rebounding is another facet of his game the Kings guard is working to develop.

“I’m trying to set my goal to at least five or six a game,” Thornton said of how many boards he’d ideally like to average.  “A couple offensive rebounds here and there, you know defensive rebounds, too.”

Since the promotion of Isaiah Thomas to starting point guard, Thornton feels his off-ball play has improved, particularly in transition.

“When you have Isaiah running point guard, he finds people,” Thornton said.  “It makes it much easier for me and Tyreke (Evans) to get out there on the break, go score easy baskets.”

Kings head coach Keith Smart complimented Thornton’s cutting ability.

“He’s getting more layups now than he did earlier,” Smart told reporters.  “Before he maybe missed three jump shots (and) he kept shooting.  But now, we have guys who will pass the ball to him and he’s getting chances to make plays by getting to the basket.”

What’s different in the Kings offense

Since Thomas took over as starting point guard, their tempo and transition game has thrived.

“We’re getting more ball movement,” said Kings big man Jason Thompson.  “When we get the rebound, we’re starting to run more and not just bring the ball up.  When we start spreading the ball more and finish with stops and rebounds, things have been going better for us.”

In the five games Thomas has started, the Kings have averaged 22.2 assists per game – five assists better than their 17.2 season average.

“You’ve got Tyreke and Marcus doing a better job of running the floor,” said coach Smart.  “I always felt that Tyreke can be really good up the floor, even when he was the starting (point guard).  But we (had) to have another ball-handler to initiate a lot of that.”

The Smart approach to Tyreke’s inconsistent jumper

Smart was asked about working with Evans’ on his jump shot.  He says the coaching staff is already looking ahead and crafting plans for what Evans needs to do in the offseason.

Adding something to get into their thinking now, they can’t change it right away.  They can’t change it within the season.  That’s gonna take a couple several hundred of hours in the gym over the summer to take shots, make shots, and shooting in a way that we need to get his balance down.

But right now, the emphasis is not on that, just kind of concept in his mind, so when he’s not with one of the coaches, or myself this summer, he can have an idea on what it is that we want.

Additional Notes

I’ll list again a few observations I tweeted following today’s workout session.

  • Assistant Coach Alex English spent extra time individually with Kings big man J.J. Hickson, working on his jump shot.
  • Jimmer Fredette worked with assistant coach Jim Eyen on his dribble-penetration, particularly shooting floaters over defenders in the paint.
  • Hassan Whiteside spent roughly an extra 30-45 minutes with assistant coach Jim Todd on his post game and mid-range jumper.
  • Tyreke Evans and Isaiah Thomas got shots up with assistant coach Bobby Jackson.  Veterans John Salmons and Francisco Garcia, who always put in extra work after each  practice, got shots up with starting two-guard Marcus Thornton.


Jonathan Santiago
Jonathan Santiago serves Cowbell Kingdom as senior editor specializing in writing, podcasting and video production. He also handles the majority of CK’s day-to-day beat coverage of the Kings.

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