After Day 2 of Kings Training Camp, find out how Isaiah Thomas aspires to follow in the footsteps of All-Star point guards. Plus, Jimmer Fredette dishes on team chemistry.
Although he’s gone from fighting for a roster spot during last year’s training camp to battling for the starting point guard position in 2012-13, Isaiah Thomas’ determination remains steadfast.
“I want to be the starting point guard,” said No. 22. “I feel I am the starting point guard and that I’m a leader on this team.
“I have the same type of mindset as I did last year – where I’m just going to go out there and give it my all – but I’m a little more comfortable with telling people which spots to be in, so I’m just trying to do whatever it takes to win games and whatever it takes to make this team the best it can possibly be.”
The second-year standout has embraced the challenge of competition in Sacramento, where several players, including newcomer Aaron Brooks – with whom Thomas went head-to-head during Wednesday’s scrimmage – are in the mix for the starting job.
“You have that sense of feeling that you do have to step it up a little bit, because there is somebody behind your back,” said Thomas.
“We’re going to push each other. (Brooks) is a quick, feisty little guard that can shoot it … He’s a guy who’s going to push me and I’m going to push him, so it’s going to work out for the best for us.”
The 5-foot-9 guard believes incorporating parts of his competitor’s games, as well as defending them in practice, will help him and the team improve.
While confident he’ll ultimately seize the opportunity, the Washington graduate has his sights set on not only being a starter, but also developing into an All-Star floor general. After absorbing the team’s playbook and modeling his game after a pair of All-NBA Team members, the UW product is ready to thrive as a sophomore.
“I want to learn each and everybody’s spots – (Head Coach Keith Smart) gave us a playbook and I’ve been studying it each and every night,” said Thomas. “I’m big on a guy like Rajon Rondo – you can see him playing and see that he knows where everybody has to be, and if they’re not in that spot, he tells them. I want to be a guy like that, and that’s just from watching film, studying, maturing and being in this gym.
“My personal goal is to be the best little guy to ever do it, and to look up to those types of guards – Chris Paul, Rondo – you’ve got to take bits and pieces from their games, because they’re at that level for a reason. I want to be there.”
- Coach Keith Smart said he’s pleased with Sacramento’s depth at both guard positions – especially defensively – stating that each player’s specific role may not be determined until the regular season begins.
The Kings leader expects to experiment with different lineup combinations, while figuring out his lineups, revealing that as many as five players could play point.
“I want to be versatile,” said Smart. “Isaiah brings something to the table different than Aaron. Aaron is the same (way) over Isaiah and Jimmer (Fredette). Jimmer brings something different.
“And I still have two other point guards that I can put in there, with Tyreke Evans playing there – and he’s going to play there a lot this year – as well. And then you also have John Salmons from time to time – that’s why I like the mix that we have.”
- With a year of experience under his belt, Fredette has taken on a more confident and assertive approach during training camp, encouraging his teammates and impressing his head coach.
“Jimmer is much more vocal this year than he was last year,” said Smart. “(He’s) being comfortable with some of the guys around him, being comfortable with what it is I want him to do, so his leadership role is starting to (grow).”
No. 7, encouraged by the coaching staff to play the same way he has throughout his basketball career, has focused on spreading the floor with his outside shooting while being a strong decision-maker and sound passer.
“(I’m) just going out there and being aggressive, scoring the basketball,” says No. 7. “I just have to go out there and do what I can do the best, and that’s score the basketball and play team basketball.”
The BYU product has seen a different atmosphere in Colorado Springs, where Sacramento players have enhanced team unity while commuting and dining together.
“It just feels like we have a little more team camaraderie,” says Fredette.
“When you have good chemistry off the floor, it translates on the floor, because you’re playing for each other, you like each other, you want to see the other person succeed and you just want to win as a team.”
How many points and assists per game do you think Isaiah Thomas will average during the 2012-13 season?