Youth was a convenient excuse for the Kings in recent seasons.
The theme of the 2012-13 season might be no more excuses it's time to grow up.
The players say this is a different team with a different attitude.
"I feel like we definitely have a different mindset," center DeMarcus Cousins said Monday during media day at the team's practice facility. "A more winning mindset. Just our confidence. I felt like we always came in with the what ifs or you don't really know our mindset. Definitely a winning mindset this year."
The Kings have posted six consecutive losing seasons. During that time, they have gone with young players as they tried to rebuild through the draft.
But as the Kings got younger, the players seemingly treated scouting reports and offseason preparation as afterthoughts.
The last two years, players showed up at training camp out of shape, meaning time that could have been spent working on their game was spent on conditioning.
The team took a different approach this summer. Many of the young players worked out together and built chemistry that often was absent in recent seasons.
"You've had the failures already, so you know what you've tried to do hasn't worked, so let's try a new angle at this thing," said coach Keith Smart.
The players said the summer workouts, including a week in July when 10 players came to Sacramento, were encouraging.
"I think that was just a first step for us to start playing together knowing we've all got to be on the same page this year," said guard Tyreke Evans.
The Kings did not spend big to lure an All-Star in the offseason, so improvement depended on the current players. They say they progressed in that regard over the summer.
Basketball president Geoff Petrie noted there was "a greater commitment this offseason from a lot of our players to their conditioning and working on their skills and trying to expand their games."
The bonding will continue in Colorado Springs, Colo., where the Kings will hold training camp Wednesday through Sunday.
"We still have to see what shows up on the court over the course of this training camp and over the rest of this season," Petrie said. "It's certainly a sign of some growth in terms of what it takes to improve and try and make yourself better and make your team better."
Evans said he and point guard Isaiah Thomas helped coordinate workouts during the summer. Evans said such gatherings were discussed last year, but talk became action this year.
"It shows you (that) guys are willing to work and are ready to turn this thing around," Thomas said. "We always talk about it, but now we're trying to be more about it. And let our game speak for itself."
Swingman Francisco Garcia is the longest-tenured King with seven seasons in Sacramento. The work the younger players put in during the summer is a positive sign, he said.
"They're growing up," Garcia said. "We're growing up as a team, and it shows a lot to the organization that this team wants to go into the playoffs and do more great things . That's one of the things we're missing, that communication and focus. We started doing it early."