The sixth-year Kings forward dishes on his excitement for the Home Opener, the team’s defensive mentality and preseason progress.
It’s good to be back for another season, Kings fans!
What a way to start off the year – knowing we’ll be in Sacramento forever – we have a new ownership group, which includes Vivek and Shaquille O’Neal, and a new coaching staff.
Our Home Opener is just a couple days away, and I can’t wait for tip-off. There’s going to be a lot of excitement and energy with a packed house, and I’m sure a lot of special guests will show up, as well. Having our first game of the season in Sacramento is going to be really special, and we’re going to come out and make sure we start off the year with a ‘W.’
With eight of our first 10 games at home, we have to take care of home cooking and take full advantage of the early-season schedule. We definitely want to establish Sleep Train Arena as one of the toughest places to play for visiting teams.
Defense, Defense, Defense
For the first time in my career, the majority of my teammates and I were in town for voluntary workouts a month before the start of training camp. It was a very positive experience, with a focus on defense. Guys know they can score, but we have to get stops and finish possessions with rebounds.
Practice has been really intense. We start in the morning, go over film if we had a game the night before and always make adjustments. Coach Malone had so much success in Golden State, and he’s trying to bring that same defensive mentality to this young team. For the past few years, we haven’t been good in that department, and he’s definitely trying to change those ways. His main message is that for us to be a winning team and win close games, we have to be good on both ends of the court.
Preseason is obviously different from the regular season, but we’ve shown we have a lot of energy and young talent. We have a lot of new offensive sets to learn and a lot of new faces to integrate, so I think for the most part, we’ve played very well. We’ve lost a couple of winnable games and had some great wins, but most importantly, we’re getting better every day and can only go up from here.
Now that I’ve had a chance to practice and play alongside them, I’m even more excited about how much our new additions can come in and help us. Greivis is a pass-first, big point guard who’s been in the League for a few years and has been on Playoff teams. He brings a great, positive mindset. Luc is a defensive-minded guy who’s athletic and can guard the best wing player on any opposing team.
It’s unfortunate that Carl is sidelined with a hip injury, but I’ve played with him before in Sacramento and know much he brings to the table. He played a major role in Golden State and on other teams in the past, so he can definitely lead us with motivation and encouraging words while he recovers.
As for our rookies, I see a lot of confidence in both. Ben has a ton of upside, and he’s starting to learn the NBA game and find success by letting the game come to him. The same goes for Ray – he’s picking and choosing his spots and not forcing shots. He’s been solid in the minutes he’s played, and he can be a good point guard in this league. The more games they have underneath their belt, the more confident they’ll be going forward.
I want to wish “Sign Lady” a speedy recovery. I hope she gets healthy very soon and is back at Sleep Train Arena as soon as possible. She’s definitely part of the Kings Family and has been the heart and soul of the team for a long time.
I held my first annual JT Elite Basketball Camp in Rancho Cordova over the summer, and it ended up being a huge success with over 300 kids attending. I’m looking to add two additional weeks of camp next summer, so stay tuned for updates on my site: JT34.net. As always, if you’d like to donate to my foundation, make sure to visit thejasonthompsonfoundation.com.
After a very successful summer overall – during which I worked extensively on my game – I’m excited for the regular season to start and I hope you all are ready to cheer us on! We have high expectations for ourselves and expect to be a really good team this year.