By Dave “Deuce” Mason
Sacramento Kings head coach Keith Smart enters his first full season as the team’s leader, and one of his main goals is building a family atmosphere with his team.
One way he looked to build team chemistry was to open training camp in Colorado Springs, Colo.
The players traveled together, ate together—and in what seems to have been most beneficial part of the Colorado experience—they bonded in teamwork and trust exercises away from the practice floor.
Throw in a ropes course along with some rock climbing and all of the sudden you get a closer team—at least for now.
Swingman Francisco Garcia—who enters his 8th season with the Kings—said the challenges they faced together brought the team closer together.
“We had to rely on each other that day. I think we became more together as a team,” Garcia said.
Following the Kings Oct. 17 preseason loss to the Warriors, Smart acknowledged that the team made the right halftime adjustments without some of the finger pointing that took place last season.
Guard Marcus Thornton is pleased with the way the team is handling adversity.
“[We’re] just coming together as a team,” Thornton said after the Kings first loss of the preseason.
“Last year I think we ventured off on our own. This year we’re all taking it upon ourselves to come together instead of going [our] separate ways.”
The family mentality has spread throughout the Kings locker room and second year guard Jimmer Fredette believes the team’s close bond will translate into more success on the floor.
“When you have good chemistry off the floor, it translates on the floor because you’re really playing for each other,” Fredette said.
“You want to see the other person succeed and you just want to win as a team and not necessarily just want to go out and play for yourself.”
A close locker room is important for a young team and showing they can handle losing—albeit in the preseason—is definitely a plus.
The big question will be how the team handles a losing streak in the middle of an 82-game regular season.
Will players be playing the “blame game” after a tough loss?
Third-year center DeMarcus Cousins says the players are done pointing fingers.
“We’re growing and we know we got to keep playing together,” Cousins said.
You can follow Deuce on Twitter @DeuceMason and listen to him on The Jason Ross Show.