Find out how Thomas Robinson has quickly made a strong impression on his teammates. Plus, to which NBA MVP did Coach English compare No. 0?
Led by Thomas Robinson and Jimmer Fredette, the Kings Mini Camp team returned to the practice facility court Tuesday morning to continue its preparation for NBA Summer League, which tips-off on Friday.
If the early practices are any indication, the young group is looking to run and be the aggressor in its upcoming five-game slate in Las Vegas.
Fredette again ran point guard duties during the scrimmages and looked often to push the tempo and get his teammates quickly into their sets. As he directed the offense, the Kings second-year guard showed the same confidence that was apparent on Day 1. Following the early training session, the BYU product earned praise from Kings Summer League Co-Head Coach Alex English for his work ethic and increased strength.
In just his second day of practice as a Kings player, Robinson displayed the array of abilities scouts and pundits buzzed about before the Draft – scoring on spot-up jumpers, running the floor with ease and finishing with force at the rim – as well as earning compliments from the coaching staff for his vocal defense.
Third-year big man Hassan Whiteside also moved fluidly on the court, showing no signs of the ankle injury that cut his sophomore campaign short. The Marshall product hit several low-post hook shots and made his presence felt on defense.
After the Tuesday session, Kings.com caught up with Robinson, Darnell Jackson and English to see what the trio had to say about Day 2 of Kings Mini Camp.
How did Day 2 of Kings Mini Camp go?
“It went pretty well. We got after it again. (We) did a lot of running, (playing) up and down – just trying to get into tip-top shape.”
Where did you get your leadership mentality?
“I think by being at (University of) Kansas and watching and learning behind certain guys. Also, having that year being a key player helped me learn to be a good leader.”
What kind of feedback have you received so far from Kings Summer League Co-Head Coaches Bobby Jackson and Alex English?
“They just told me to keep talking and keep being me. We are only on Day 2, and we have another one (tonight), so after this third one things should be pretty smooth.”
What does it mean to you to hear Coach English compare your driving ability to a young LeBron James?
“It’s great. If I stay healthy, I think I can attack the rim with the best of them.”
Who has impressed you most so far in mini camp?
“Everyone is out here working. The good thing is that everyone is here competing for a job but it’s still a team atmosphere – there is no selfishness going around. I’ve been impressed by the whole group.”
How is mini camp going for you?
“Mini camp is going great. We have a lot of young guys in here. Basically, I’m just trying to stay on these young guys and let them know how hard you have to work to make it to the next level. Every possession, it doesn’t matter if you’re tired, you have to go hard. Coach Bobby Jackson is staying on us telling us that you have to go hard every possession.”
How influential have veterans you’ve played under been on your career?
“They’ve helped me a lot – Ben Wallace, Shaquille O’Neal, being around LeBron and just watching how hard they (played) every day. (It) doesn’t matter if you were sick or sprained your ankle, those guys went hard every day. For me, going from Kansas to Cleveland, I just try to take a little bit of everything and bring it to the court.”
Where have you taken your game since we saw you last in Sacramento?
“During the lockout I went to Ukraine for seven months. I’m not going to lie, it was the hardest experience I’ve had in my basketball career. It was unbelievable, but it was a great experience. I learned a lot.”
What are your goals for Kings Mini Camp and Summer League?
“My goals for Summer League are just to come in here, stay on the young guys and show them the ropes a little bit, and tell these guys what is really important – you’re not just auditioning for the Kings organization but actually auditioning for every organization in the NBA.”
How was Day 2 of Kings Mini Camp?
“This was only our second practice but we put in a lot of sets. Guys are memorizing the sets, trying to get our spacing down and get our concepts down. They are doing a pretty decent job of learning.”
What has impressed you so far about Thomas Robinson?
“I like Thomas Robinson a lot, he has a lot of power. He kind of reminds me – I remember when LeBron James came into the League and he would drive to the (basket), and he was so big and strong that people would get out of his way – he’s kind of like that. He’s not that player, but when he goes to the (basket), he goes hard and he goes strong.”
“I haven’t seen a lot of players that talk on defense – and this is veteran guys. He talks on defense all the time, and I like it a lot.”
Is there anything that’s surprised you about Thomas Robinson’s skill set?
“I didn’t get a chance to see him much in college, so this is a learning thing for me as well. I’m pleasantly surprised with everything that he does. He’s made the mid-range jump shot, he runs the floor hard, and I think that is the thing that impresses me the most – he runs the floor hard and doesn’t take plays off.”
What have you seen so far from Jimmer Fredette?
“Jimmer is a lot stronger. He’s a lot more sure of his game, and (his play has) been very positive. He’s making wide-open looks and running the floor, he’s made some great passes – so I’m happy with what I see with Jimmer.”
Stay current with Offseason Central July 13-19, as Kings.com goes all access to provide complete coverage of the Kings participation in Vegas Summer League.