The Kings made it past the halfway point of the season last week with some of their players voicing displeasure.
Bogdan Bogdanovic said the Kings needed to create a better culture to foster improvement and it was up to every player to prepare for each game like a professional.
Willie Cauley-Stein called for accountability amongst his teammates and tougher coaching.
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The Kings are perturbed by how things are going.
Being sick and tired of what’s happening is great. If this begins to become the norm in the Kings’ locker room, this latest version of rebuilding just might be headed in the right direction.
Improved professionalism and effort has to be preached from players the Kings see as part of their future. Veterans like Garrett Temple have been vocal, but if it’s coming from players like Cauley-Stein, it’s more important.
One of the concerns veterans had late last season was tanking did not teach young players how to win. Those concerns were valid with many young players not taking losses hard, but rather as part of the rebuilding process.
The losing that has weighed the franchise down has taken over new players over the years. Their enthusiasm wanes as they come to accept that this is just how things work in Sacramento.
Perhaps some of the young Kings haven’t been tainted yet and they can rely on past examples of winning cultures to get the Kings on the right path.
Bogdanovic was part of winning teams in Europe and the Kings’ recent stretch (losing seven of eight) had Cauley-Stein recalling his winning days in college, when Kentucky coach John Calipari sternly ruled the team.
The Kings haven’t had a winning record or reached the playoffs since the 2005-06 season. This season, at 13-29, they entered Sunday with the worst record in the Western Conference, half a game behind Memphis. That’s not surprising. It was expected.
But what was promised was a team that was energetic and would be fun to watch. But what’s fun about being the team with the NBA’s worst point differential (minus-8.8, 2.2 points worse than Phoenix entering Sunday) that treats most first quarters like a warm-up session?
That’s not to say there haven’t been positives on the court.
Bogdanovic looks more comfortable and Cauley-Stein is making strides. De’Aaron Fox gaining confidence, too.
But that doesn’t matter if the bad habits that have kept the Kings down are accepted as part of the rebuilding process.
The Kings have 40 games left this season. It’s no secret losses can help their chances at a high draft pick in June, especially knowing they do not have a first-round selection in 2019.
At some point, the veterans will play less as the team tries to see more from its younger players.
With that will come losing. But some anger should also come with it, too. The last thing the Kings can afford to do is have a locker room of young players who accept the way things are is the way they should be in the NBA.
January has been good for Bogdanovic. The rookie shooting guard is averaging 15.3 points and shooting 55 percent in six games this month. He is impressing teammates and league observers with his composed play.
After a strong stretch of play in December, veteran forward Zach Randolph is shooting just 37.5 percent in his last nine games and averaging 11.7 points.
Friday’s game at Memphis should be emotional for Randolph. He was a two-time All-Star with the Grizzlies in his eight seasons and the team has already announced his No. 50 will be retired by the franchise.
Randolph is beloved in Memphis for both his play and his community work.
It’s the first stop on a season-long six-game trip for the Kings.