Kings coach Michael Malone knew it wouldnt be easy to turn one of the worst defensive units in the NBA into a cohesive group.
That hasnt made the process any less frustrating.
The Kings rank 28th in the NBA in scoring defense at 104.6 points per game and tied for last in opponents field-goal percentage at 46.9 percent.
Malone, however, wont back down from his message: The Kings must play defense to climb from the bottom of the Western Conference standings and eventually become a playoff contender.
Malone is using all his resources to get the message across, including relying on players who have seen a team become multi-dimensional.
Malone asked forward Carl Landry to speak to the team about how the coach, as a Golden State assistant, saw a team not known for defense embrace it.
The question came up, in Golden State, Year 1 ... We werent a very good defensive team, and we were a lottery team (in 2011-12), Malone said. The second year, we became a better defensive team, and we became a tough out by the Spurs in the second round.
Landry joined the Warriors last season and played a big role in the turnaround. He said the Warriors changed their approach.
Golden State had a team whose identity in the past was to put up points and outscore people as a unit, Landry said. But guys who were on the team in the past understood thats not going to get you anywhere, and last year everyone bought in to defense.
It has carried over into this season. Golden State is holding opponents to 43.4 percent shooting, fourthin the NBA.
Golden State used many of the Kings excuses for poor defense. The Warriors lacked elite man-to-man defenders. The Warriors had offensive-minded players who could not be expected to defend well.
Carl talked about why we were so good, Malone said. It wasnt because we had great lock-down defenders. It was five guys always working as one, covering for each other and communicating.
Communication has been a problem for the Kings on defense. Good defensive teams talk constantly.
The Kings have too many possessions in which the dialogue doesnt take place until a mistake has led to easy points for the opposition.
Malone and his staff encourage ELC communication on defense early, loud and continuous.
As the Kings improve in that area and in understanding and implementing defensive game plans, they should improve on defense.
Malone liked what he saw in Saturdays loss at San Antonio. The Kings have shown flashes of being able to defend this season, but the defense usually has been bad.
Everybody on this team can score, Landry said. The Warriors had scorers. But its going to take everyone, including myself, to get better defensively.
And its going to take time.