Kings coach Keith Smart had a message for swingman Tony Mitchell after he impressed the team during summer league play.
The undrafted rookie from Alabama needed to do more if he hoped to make an NBA roster.
"You're a gifted young athlete, but you run around like you're slower than molasses," Smart recalled telling Mitchell. " You've got the right size, the potential to be a really good defensive player, but you've got to get serious about this."
Mitchell (6-foot-6, 210 pounds) has been serious in his approach as a training camp invitee.
Mitchell is the only player from summer league who was not under contract with the Kings and now on their training camp roster.
Mitchell's summer league consistency stood out to the Kings, as did the idea he could eventually be the defensive help they have sought at guard and small forward.
"One of the reasons he's back is because we see the potential in him," Smart said. "And all we have to do is keep cultivating it ."
Mitchell averaged 11.4 points in summer league games, making 23 of 48 shots (47.9 percent). He scored in double figures in each of his last three games, but Mitchell's defense gives him his best chance of making the Kings' roster, and that won't be easy.
The Kings have 14 players with guaranteed contracts, leaving one spot left for Mitchell. The more active he is, the better his chances are to stick around beyond the preseason.
"I'm real long and athletic on the defensive end, (I can) guard different positions, and this team probably needs a guy like that," Mitchell said. "And I'm going to try and be that guy."
The Kings have a lot of wing players, and there won't be time during the season to give a young player the on-court time to develop.
"I already knew coming in it was going to be a different role than in summer league, so I've just got to work on that," Mitchell said.
Mitchell will have to impress in limited action and with desire and work ethic on and off the court.
"I look at how he practices, how he works, his approach," Smart said. "Because as we move forward with adding people to our team, that's the criteria."
Smart said Mitchell is "competing defensively" and was helped by his time in summer league because he knew what to work on before training camp.
Smart acknowledged Mitchell shot the ball well during the Kings' training camp in Colorado Springs, Colo., too.
But that's not what Mitchell wants to showcase to make the Kings.
"I'm not too much worried about offense because I know that will come in time," Mitchell said.
Lineup shifts Smart said he would "probably" have a different starting lineup for Monday's preseason game against the Portland Trail Blazers.
Smart, however, would not reveal what those changes might be.
Smart used a familiar lineup in last Wednesday's preseason opener. He started Isaiah Thomas and Marcus Thornton at guard, Tyreke Evans and Jason Thompson at forward and DeMarcus Cousins at center.
That lineup started 18 games last season.