Find out how Coach Smart is highlighting one-on-one instruction and positivity with Kings players. Plus, Evans talks about his ferocious dunk vs. Utah and more.
Practice for the Sacramento Kings on Monday has just ended and players start to scatter to the locker room, but the day’s work is not yet done.
Coach Keith Smart puts down two pieces of tape just above the right elbow of the key and calls guard Tyreke Evans over. He instructs Evans to take a jump shot so that when he shoots, his feet start and land on the pieces of tape. Evans has a self-admitted habit of fading when he takes a jump shot and Smart is making an extra effort to correct Evans’ ritual.
As the Kings guard hoists up shots, Smart offers constructive criticism and corrects the third-year player when he reverts back to his fadeaway.
The episode of one-on-one teaching is commonplace at a Smart-run practice and is something veteran Chuck Hayes says is “vital” for the team.
“He’s been put in a situation where he has to coach (and) teach on the fly, and he’s doing a great job,” the team captain says. “The guys are responding. He’s doing a lot of teaching, which is great – breaking down the game and understanding the position you’re in.”
In recent practices, Smart has had the Kings work on defensive coverage, particularly pick-and-roll situations. Smart believes a player must work on individual aspects of a play, such as developing proper posture and knowing when to help on weak-side defense, before mastering the coverage.
Once a player has picked up a concept, it’s repeated frequently. Smart says the repetition is crucial when teaching players basketball concepts.
The Kings leader also places a priority on making affirmative comments to his players at practice and in the film room.
“I’m big on (positive reinforcement),” he says. “I’d rather use individual teaching of guys making mistakes as opposed to group sessions.
“My videos are always a teaching session, (and) I don’t believe in that other side to where you berate players, because they won’t listen. Historically, it’s just taught that way. You can’t teach people when they’re upset.”
Evans says Monday’s extra shooting session was planned after watching film of his shot with Smart.
“He made a good point,” No. 13 said. “When I shoot, (instead of) fading back, just try to make an even point where I’m squared up to the basket and worry about jumping straight up and down.
“There are a lot of times where I don’t have to fade – he’s right.”
Smart says although he is giving Evans shooting tips, he places emphasis on having the Kings guard manage the game, and on certain sets, read the defense and attack the rim.
So far, Smart says that the guard is eager to soak up his lessons.
“It’s important he continues to grow and wants to learn, and I think he has the capacity for wanting to do that.”
– Chuck Hayes is cleared to play for Tuesday night’s game at Golden State. Hayes had his shoulder pop out of socket near the end of Saturday night’s tilt at Utah.
Despite getting clearance from the team’s training staff, the seventh-year veteran will continue to rehab his shoulder.
“The only thing we can do is strengthen (the shoulder) up, do my rehab, do my therapy, just to get the muscles and the ligaments stronger again,” Hayes says.
The team captain also added he is prepared to play the rest of the season with a shoulder brace.
– The game at Golden State will be the first regular-season contest for Smart at ORACLE Arena since he became Sacramento’s coach. Smart was a Warriors assistant for seven seasons before being named Golden State’s head coach for the 2010-11 season.
Smart said it will be an emotional return and interesting adjustment now that he is coaching on the other side of the scorer’s table.
“Going back there, there’s so many people I was there with for so long,” Smart said. “From an organizational standpoint to people at the arena, you just knew everyone who was there so it (will feel) like you’re going back into a home, yet you have to go into the visitor locker room.”
– Evans had an emphatic dunk in the third quarter of Saturday’s game against the Jazz, and recalling the highlight, he says his eyes widened when he saw the key open up for him to take flight.
“That’s probably the most I’ve seen (the lane) open up this year,” Evans said. “Every other time there’s guys blocking the paint, so I took advantage of it.”
While he admits it was his finest flush of the season, No. 13 cites last year’s slam over San Antonio Spurs guard Gary Neal as his most impressive NBA-career dunk.
WATCH: Evans Monster Dunk on Jazz
WATCH: Evans Posterizes Neal