The Kings' lack of communication on defense was evident last season when they actually did talk often after giving up an easy basket.
Improved communication is paramount heading into this season, but coach Keith Smart won't base improvement on how much noise players make on defense.
It will be what they do without talking.
Smart isn't requiring players to just talk on defense; he wants to them to know where to be and to be able to trust each other on the floor.
"I had a chance go to a deaf school one time and watch a basketball practice and the people couldn't talk," Smart said. "So what was most important was, 'Are you where you're supposed to be?' "
The Kings were last in field-goal percentage allowed (47.6) and points allowed (104.4) last season. So Smart is using the preseason to emphasize defensive principles of ball pressure and clogging the lane.
Smart does want players talking on the court, but knowing where to be is more important.
"When you have a consistent system you're trying to develop, really, there's no talking needed," Smart said. "There will be a day in practice where I'll say, 'I don't want anyone talking. I just want the action and you to be in the position you're supposed to be. That's what you're trying to get to.' "
The addition of forward James Johnson and rookie forward Thomas Robinson has Smart intrigued about the possibilities on defense.
Smart wants players who can defend multiple positions within the system, and both players have shown they can thus far.
Johnson has been a help defensively, having played in Chicago for Tom Thibodeau and in Toronto for Dwane Casey, who preached similar defensive principles.
Johnson said it's also the style of defense he played in college at Wake Forest.
"It's just constant movement, and it gets to a point where you don't even have to talk," Johnson said. "You know if you get beat, someone is going to jump to the other player."
The versatility Smart wants on defense requires the Kings to play unselfishly. That's preached a lot on offense, but it also matters on defense when a guard might have to battle a post player to help out a teammate.
Johnson said that when the defense is at its best, everyone is on a virtual string, making rotations crisp, and no spot on the floor is ever left undefended.
"There's no spot position like there is on offense," Johnson said. "Everybody has to play, everybody has to buy in. You could be on top as a (center), you could be on the bottom as a (point guard). You could be guarding the post at one time, you could be guarding a guard at one time. It's just constant movement."
Guest speaker The Kings had a light practice and film session Friday.
The team was also addressed by motivational speaker John Foley, a former Blue Angels pilot.
Smart said the same traits that make Foley successful are needed on the court, including sacrifice and teamwork.
"Maybe one guy gets the message, maybe two, maybe the whole team gets it," Smart said. "We want to make sure we're stretching these guys out. Not just on the basketball floor but stretching them mentally."