COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. Jimmer Fredette should have an advantage here, right?
The second-year Kings guard spent a good portion of his offseason training at high altitude in nearby Denver, so running in Colorado Springs shouldn't be so bad.
That might be true if Fredette hadn't spent the past two weeks in California.
"Hopefully, I can get it back quicker than these other guys that haven't been training out here," Fredette said. "You can obviously feel it right from the beginning, when you start getting warmed up."
That the Kings are holding their first week of training camp at the United States Olympic Training Center is more than just putting players through tough practices at high altitude to test and improve their conditioning.
That's a key part of the reason. But it's also about developing camaraderie away from the court, especially following recent seasons of disharmony.
So, Kings camp 2012 is part on-court preparation, part team-building retreat.
"We're trying to be a family this year," said guard Marcus Thornton. "That's the whole thing for coming out to Colorado, to build team chemistry and become a family. Once you get that down, the rest is easy. When guys get along on the court, they get along off the court, and the games become easy, too."
The lack of togetherness was evident to coach Keith Smart when he took over as coach early last season. He noticed players rarely did anything as simple as have lunch together on the road.
So rather than start training camp in Sacramento, where players could go their separate ways after practices, Smart received permission from the Kings brass to isolate the team for a few days and emphasize unity.
"Right now, we have to surprise people because we're no one in the NBA," Smart said. "So we have to pull out all the stops to try to grow as a team."
The Kings have been hurt in recent seasons by their habit of resorting to what center DeMarcus Cousins calls "selfish" basketball.
Smart has said repeatedly that the Kings don't have a superstar who can be counted on to take over games, but that hasn't stopped players from trying to prove him wrong.
Rather than work as a unit, the Kings became a collection of individuals trying to win games on their own.
"When things went bad last year a couple of times, we shied away from each other," Thornton said. "To be a good team, to be the team we want to be, we can't do that. When times get hard, we have to come together and be a team all the time."
Smart believes the Kings need this time away from home to meld as a team.
"You want them to focus on just the team at the moment," Smart said. "They don't have anyone else out here they have to focus with. They have to focus on just the team."
Activities have been planned to fill some of the spare time between practices. Getting the players to do things on the road in the past has been a struggle. Now they have no choice.
"Sometimes you've got to get away from the monotony of training camp and be able to give the guys a day or so to get their legs back (and) still also have something that's going to (perpetuate) team bonding," Smart said.
"We're going to have some things that we have planned to do, other ways to have our team keep growing, building trust among this team."