Kings Blog

How the classroom is as important as practice facilities for the Kings’ young players

Kings guard Malachi Richardson speaks with coach Dave Joerger during a game this season. The team is using classroom settings as much as practice facilities to help the younger players transition to the NBA game.
Kings guard Malachi Richardson speaks with coach Dave Joerger during a game this season. The team is using classroom settings as much as practice facilities to help the younger players transition to the NBA game. hamezcua@sacbee.com

The Kings have become accustomed to practicing in places other than Sacramento.

Monday’s location was the Philadelphia 76ers’ facility, but in some cases practices are hard to come by on the road. After playing the 76ers on Tuesday and ending their four-game trip Wednesday in Brooklyn, that will be 19 of the first 31 games played away from Golden 1 Center.

Because travel doesn’t always allow for practice, that forces the Kings to spend more time studying off the court. Film sessions have become another way the team is helping its young players pick up the NBA game.

The time players spend reviewing game footage on their iPads is important, but the sessions with coaches provide the foundation for what players study.

“We’ve done a ton of classroom settings,” Kings coach Dave Joerger said. “The whole group but even more so small groups. It’s not a positive or a negative unless you have to go to that. It’s more about teaching things, where maybe you can’t you practice them but you’re going to have to show them more than once.”

When the Kings get on the floor for practice, as they did Monday, Joerger likes what he’s seen.

Those habits have carried over to games, where Joerger sees his team becoming competitive as the season goes on.

“The level of focus to get in a good practice on the road is very valuable, we’ve done that,” Joerger said. “And we’ve gotten better at home with our practices. Our performances sometimes are up and down, but by and large the level of competition has been good. We’ve competed whether we are behind, ahead or even.”

The Kings next opportunity to practice might not be until Friday, as teams take the day off after back-to-back games, meaning Thursday is a rest day.

That means a lot of mental reps for the players, especially those who might not get much time in games.

Second-year guard Malachi Richardson said he’s studying film every day and being patient this season, even as playing time might not be plentiful.

“It’s all mental, making sure you’re paying attention to how guys play and you just want to learn,” Richardson said. “When we watch other teams, I like to watch the other team’s best players and see exactly what they do and how I can implement them into my game.”

The Kings could be more formidable when they face the 76ers. Veteran big man Zach Randolph was at practice after resting during Sunday’s loss at Toronto. Also, rookie guard De’Aaron Fox practiced Monday after sitting out Sunday with a bruised right thigh. He’s listed as questionable for Tuesday.

Joerger said the Kings are coming along as expected with a roster loaded with young players. Patience remains a key word, especially in a situation where a lot of learning is done away from the court.

“Guys are learning their general game experience, learning how to be professionals,” Joerger said. “Practices are spirited and it’s always fun to come to the gym with our group. The idea of getting better every day is long term, you just can’t do it for a little while.”

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

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