As Kings Training Camp gets underway, find out how Thomas Robinson has impressed his coaches and teammates. Plus, Tyreke’s long-range jumper heats up the gym in Colorado Springs.
On a day when Sacramento practiced defensive concepts – emphasizing posture, pick-and-roll coverage and post-up traps – rookie Thomas Robinson made an immediate impression, and according to Kings Head Coach Keith Smart, is already ahead of the learning curve.
“One thing I love about college kids who come from really good college programs (is) they have a strong base of how (to) play hard and defend,” said Smart. “He already has shown – which has opened our eyes a little bit – how (well) he defends the post-up, because in college you front everything.”
Veteran Chuck Hayes has been pleased with the way the studious rookie hasn’t shied away from asking his more-experienced teammates for guidance while striving to improve and learn the nuisances of the game.
“The kid asks questions, which is great,” said Hayes. “You can’t come in here thinking you know everything.
“He asked me questions on positioning, on how to guard certain pick-and-rolls, and I’m giving him my best insight that I’ve learned over the years.”
With a relentless drive and immense respect for his teammates and the game, Robinson is taking the advice and adjustments necessary to succeed in stride.
“I just want to be the best rookie I can towards the veterans, just try to learn as much as I can, as (quickly) as I can,” said No. 0, following the non-contact practice.
“I just want to get comfortable playing with my team and comfortable being on the NBA level, and the quicker I can do that, the better I’ll start playing.”
– Robinson and DeMarcus Cousins – who have quickly forged a close bond on and off the court – went through midrange shooting drills with Assistant Coach Clifford Ray after practice, offering each other compliments, as well as sharing a few kind-hearted laughs.
“When we’re together, it’s all love, but we know when to work at the same time,” said Sacramento’s 2012 draftee.
Cousins, impressed with his teammate’s non-stop effort, stated he’s already begun to serve as a mentor and has taken the Kansas product under his wing.
“(My early advice to him is) just use his body more – he has the strength and athleticism to play with anybody,” said the 6-foot-11 center. “He’s listening, he’s taking advice and he’s trying to get better.”
Robinson, in turn, says he has been able to relate to No. 15 because of their similar playing styles and personalities, while taking the veteran’s instructions to heart.
“Whenever he sees me doing something wrong, he’ll fix it quickly,” said the rookie. “(He’ll) try to tell me, ‘Just listen, don’t be hard-headed, just do what the coaches ask, do what the veterans ask, and it’ll be a lot easier for (you).’”
– Tyreke Evans, putting up jumpers after practice with Assistant Coach Bobby Jackson – at one point connecting on 10 consecutive three-pointers – described the way he has developed a set regimen while working on establishing muscle-memory.
“It just feels comfortable when I shoot it, and mostly every time I shoot, I feel like it’s going in,” he said. “Once I feel like that, it’s a good sign. All I have to do is keep working out, keep getting extra shots up after practice and just keep the routine going.”
Coach Smart, acknowledging No. 13’s improved accuracy, believes Evans’ versatility will allow him to play nearly every spot on the court – a point of emphasis for every player on the roster during camp.
“We’re going to play a good basketball player where a good basketball player can help a team win,” said the Kings leader. “If (Evans) can help us win playing center, he might play center that night … I don’t want to lock a good basketball player into one position … If he’s good, it makes no difference where he plays.
“I don’t want to type-cast and put these guys in a certain role right now – I want to see how they develop and see what it is that they can do to help our team. Last night, I shared with them, the goal is only one – to win the game (on a given) night.”
– At the conclusion of practice, the 18 players and five coaches huddled in a circle at midcourt, put their hands together and shouted, “Family!”
What aspect of Thomas Robinson’s game do you think will most help the team this season?