Coach Smart dishes on regular-season starting lineup talk, team defense and setting Sacramento’s Opening Day roster.
– During Wednesday’s practice, Kings Head Coach Keith Smart focused on reiterating defensive concepts the team has emphasized since the onset of training camp.
“We had to (mentally) get ourselves back to Colorado Springs again and go back to our defensive work we did,” said Smart. “We had to refocus the whole team again, get them back onto the defensive horse that we’ve been on. It was a great practice today.
“We just want to make sure the guys who are playing do the right things every single time they’re on the floor. Then, we have five days to work and get ourselves ready for our first game.”
– After previously revealing he anticipates utilizing the team’s Opening Night starting lineup in the final exhibition tune-up, Smart says the players who start Thursday’s game in San Diego are not locked-in to the starting five for Sacramento’s first regular season match-up.
“I have to watch myself and what I say after a basketball game,” said the Kings leader with a chuckle.
“Don’t read anything into (Thursday’s starters).”
– Smart is looking to keep talented players who also possess positive character and a willingness to improve, as the NBA opening day roster maximum of 15 players nears its deadline on Monday, Oct. 29 at 2 p.m. PDT.
Kings training camp invitees Tony Mitchell, Willie Reed and Hamady Ndiaye have all impressed Smart throughout October, making the final roster selection difficult for the Kings front office.
“We want to get every ounce out of each one of them to see what they can all bring,” said the head coach.
“It’s a tough decision because all the (invitees) we’ve brought in have done a great job. They should be on an NBA roster – obviously they can’t all be here – but overall, whichever one we keep or (bring in) somewhere down the road … they have developed very, very well from when they first arrived here to where they are now.”
Sacramento’s roster currently stands at 17 players.
– Before the team departed on Wednesday for its final preseason contest, Smart explained that the Kings registered about 35 deflections per game in 2011-12 – a statistic the coaching staff closely tracks. So far, Sacramento has averaged roughly the same number during preseason action, and the Kings leader aims to increase the total closer to 38 deflections per game in 2012-13.