Kings Juggling Talent, Immaturity
Winning in the NBA is about much more than talent. Every player in the league has talent and can contribute when in the right situation. The players that become great learn how to grow their talent by adding humility, hard work, maturity and trust.
This is something the young Sacramento Kings are learning.
Without a doubt the Kings have a locker room filled with talent and also immaturity. Many times the latter overwhelms the talent and results in a team getting drubbed regularly and developing a losing culture where the individual becomes the focus.
There is a desire for things to change, but the process hasn’t come as quickly as the players, coaches and fans would like, but it’s a process that the young talented players on the roster are learning to accept and embrace.
The Kings have played a few great games recently – the double overtime game against the Miami Heat being the most notable – that has opened their eyes to the possibilities that playing team-first basketball can bring. They’ve also played several bad games, which has become the expectation. The difference now is the guys have an understanding of what needs to change and it seems like they’re opening up to the idea of doing it every night.
“The problem with our team is when the guys give up on who succeeds and allow the team to function first, they’ve been able to compete with anyone,” Keith Smart said. “When one guy needs to have all the glory and others guys get upset, well, that’s where we have our problems.”
The epiphany came for the Kings after playing a great game against the Heat and following it up with a few big wins over the Orlando Magic and Charlotte Bobcats. Neither team can be mistaken for a contender, but the approach the Kings are trying to take focuses on playing team-first basketball with the expectation that wins will follow.
They want to be a team that’s considered tough to beat and are attempting to play the right way to make that happen.
“When we play team-first basketball we’re a tough team to beat,” DeMarcus Cousins said. “We’ve recently played some of the best basketball we’ve played all season and when we play the way we’ve been playing, we’re a tough team to beat.”
Cousins, who has been the focus of turmoil and trade rumors this season, is one of the players taking the lead on the team’s new team-first approach. For the 22-year-old big man, the approach and goals are simple and attainable.
“It’s about wanting to do the right things,” Cousins said. “Putting yourself and personal goals to the side and putting the team first.” The team has started to believe in the collection of talent more than the individual. There is a feeling now that a team-first approach will result in a surprising rise and future playoff appearances. In fact, there are players in the Kings’ locker room who believe they can be one of the league’s best teams if they stay away from the me-first mentality that has hurt them the last few seasons.
“I think we can be one of the best, especially when we play unselfish and everyone’s happy,” Tyreke Evans said. “When we’re moving the ball and guys are getting their shots, good things happen. After the Heat game, we saw how good we can be. Miami fought really hard for that win. After the game, we all realized that if we play like that against every other team we’ll have a good chance of winning.”
They’re still a young team and will face the adversities that come along with being young. But there seems to have been a shift in the Kings’ locker room. Where that takes them is unknown at this point, but with the type of talent, it will be intriguing to watch.