The Kings’ search for stability at shooting guard has led them through several veterans and youngsters over the years.
The latest veteran to enter the fray is Arron Afflalo, who will soon begin his 10th season. He hopes to show he’s still capable of having an impact at age 30.
To do that, Afflalo is trying to turn back the clock.
“I just want to get back to defending,” Afflalo said Thursday after the third day of training camp at the team’s new downtown practice facility. “I’ve heard a lot of small talk about the defensive end of the court, at least for me personally. Playing defense is a key component to winning basketball, and that’s the culture they’re trying to set around here.”
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The Kings have sought a defensive menace at shooting guard for some time. They hoped Ben McLemore would develop into that player, but his confidence and development have been shaken amid coaching changes.
The Kings traded for rookie guard Malachi Richardson in July, but he’s unlikely to help immediately. In addition, the Kings signed veteran Garrett Temple, who also can play point guard and small forward.
So there appears to be an opportunity for Afflalo, who signed a two-year contract in the offseason with a player option after this season, to show he can be that shooting guard.
Afflalo spent last season with the New York Knicks, averaging 12.8 points in a disappointing campaign for the team.
Afflalo said he’s not concerned about playing time on the Kings.
“I haven’t thought about it too much,” Afflalo said. “We’ve just been out there competing. All the guys at their position have been doing their best to push each other.”
Unlike the other shooting guards, the 6-foot-5, 210-pound Affalo can play in the post. He said he’s “not sure” when he became comfortable with it.
“I know I got to post up a lot when I was in Orlando (2012-14),” Afflalo said of two career-best scoring seasons at 16.5and 18.2 points per game. “It just depends on the style of the team you’re with. (As for myself), I’ve had to adjust my game to the coach’s needs or however the team plays. Over the course of my career, I’ve just tried to take pride in being a versatile basketball player.”
Kings coach Dave Joerger is trying to figure out how to best use Afflalo.
“It’s difficult because Rudy (Gay) and Arron are both effective post-up guys, so you don’t want to be playing two bigs when you do that,” Joerger said. “And that’s what we ran into in Memphis a little bit when we had Rudy or Tayshaun (Prince) or Jeff Green. There can be difficulty finding guys space when you have two bigs. So you’ve got to figure it out as a coach how you can get into those bang bangs, how you filter your lineup so that you have room to do that.”
Afflalo said he has no preference where he fits on offense.
“It doesn’t matter,” Afflalo said. “It’s just about repetition, confidence and being comfortable. When you play in a certain style, whether you’re in the post a lot or out on the perimeter a lot, you’ve got to be comfortable with it.”
One practice – After two-a-day practices on the first two days of training camp, Joerger opted for one practice Thursday.
Joerger said this is when players start to show “the nicks and bang-ups” of the contact practices held the first two evenings of camp.
That’s why he said it’s important to be strategic in how he uses players.
“If you have 18 guys in camp, try to play three teams and rotate it so you’re not taking every rep,” Joerger said. “ ... We’re not driving them into the ground by a guy having to take every rep.”
That method can make practices last longer, Joerger said, but he added the players had shown good energy and had been attentive as they learn a new offense and defense.