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Why Kings’ new hire sees the path to a championship in a different light

Galen Duncan was announced Thursday as the Kings’ new vice president of the Kings Academy and professional development.
Galen Duncan was announced Thursday as the Kings’ new vice president of the Kings Academy and professional development. Associated Press file

No respected prognosticator expects these Kings to make a deep postseason run, but that doesn’t mean Galen Duncan won’t feel like a champion by the end of the season.

If the Kings’ young players make strides personally and conduct themselves well away from the game, “that’s my ring,” said Duncan, who was announced Thursday as the team’s new vice president of the Kings Academy and professional development.

The Kings will have five rookies on the roster and 10 who have played three or fewer NBA seasons. Duncan will direct the program that aims to help players manage personal responsibilities that come with transitioning to the NBA.

The Kings made strides in the spring to improve their image to prospective players, and programs like the Kings Academy are another step in showing the team is committed to supporting its talent.

“I saw an opportunity to make a change in an environment,” Duncan said of why he came to Sacramento. “To help some young guys build intimate relationships with some young guys that could potentially benefit from some of the things that I’ve been around and been through.”

Duncan comes from the NFL, where he spent 10 years as the Detroit Lions’ senior director of player development. He helped players with housing options, financial education tools, counseling connections and off-field career opportunities.

Duncan also helped with character evaluations for all draft-eligible players, ran the rookie transition and social media etiquette training programs and was the Lions’ liaison between the league office and the NFL Players Association. He also was a member of the Player Development Steering Committee.

In the NBA, he provided counseling to first- and second-year players through the rookie transition program and players’ association. Duncan is also a therapist with the Wayne State University and University of Detroit Mercy sports programs.

The Detroit native who played basketball at Lake Superior State said he’s always enjoyed the team atmosphere, which led him into his career. After graduating in 1994, Duncan earned his master’s degree in social work from Wayne State in 1997 and his Ph.D. in health psychology from Walden University in 2006.

“I have some things in my tool box,” Duncan said. “ ... Getting to know them, their needs and desires, is going to be my first requirement and then from there I’ve got to meet these guys where they are, learn what they want and what they need.”

The latest addition by general manager Vlade Divac plans to get to know everyone in the organization, the players and even their families.

“I’m trying to support everybody from Vlade to coach (Dave) Joerger to get it done,” Duncan said.

That’s how Duncan plans to get his ring.

Jason Jones: @mr_jasonjones, read more about the team at sacbee.com/kings.

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