SACRAMENTO -- DeMarcus Cousins entered Kings training camp with yet another new head coach. In now his seventh NBA season, Dave Joerger is the sixth different man to don a whistle and start directing Cousins and his teammates.
Sacramento has had a revolving door at the top, but there is a different feel with Joerger. After three successful seasons in Memphis, including a 147-99 regular season record and three trips to the Western Conference playoffs, Joerger joined the Kings on a 4-year, $16 million deal this summer.
The hope is that Cousins and Joerger will form a unique relationship that will help the Kings snap their decade long playoff drought. But there is a ton of work to do before we can even start discussing the P-word.
“There’s a lot of learning,” Cousins said of week one of camp. “It’s a new system of course. A lot of options, man. The offense is different. I think it’s a good look for our team. I think this will help this team get to the next level. It’s just about us getting the system down pat and like I said, getting these options, there’s a lot of options.”
Cousins has played in plenty of different systems during his time in Sacramento. He’s been used all over the floor, but Joerger is attempting to convert him to a high-post center, which might play perfectly to Cousins’ strengths.
“I love it, I love it...I love it,” Cousins said.
After a season in George Karl’s frenetic offense, Cousins is excited for the change in schemes. Although the switch over hasn’t been easy.
“It’s been tough, honestly,” Cousins said. “To shake off the way we used to play, to more, you know, I guess you could say traditional way, it’s been tough. But I think guys have been great about it. We’re working hard. We’re taking in as much information as we can in a short period of time. We’re growing at a fast pace, but we still have a lot of growing to do.”
Adding to the workload, Joerger has focused primarily on defense during the first week of camp. For a team that couldn’t guard their own shadow last season, the adjustment to Joerger’s "grit and grind" system has taken plenty of coaching. By the time he gets to the media session following practice everyday, Joerger's voice is raspy and toned down considerably.
“You mean over-drilled us,” Cousins said with a smile when asked about Joerger’s defensive-minded approach. “It’s good. It’s something we need. You could tell this is really starting to work. It’s starting to become a natural thing for this team and that’s what we need.”
Fresh off his gold medal run with Team USA, Cousins is healthy and in the best shape of his life. He looks prime to have another big season for the Kings. He'll be asked to be more than just a scorer this year as the offense will go through his giant hands on most possessions.
He's survived two full relocation attempts and plenty of turnover in his time in Sacramento, but the 6-foot-11 big man is in good spirits heading into the new year.
“I’m excited,” Cousins said of the upcoming season. “It’s a beautiful arena. This city was more than deserving of this arena. You can feel the energy, feel the buzz throughout the city, so it’s an exciting time for Kings basketball and I’m ready to get started.”
Despite boasting the best big man in the NBA, the Kings continue to fly under the radar. The early season focus will be on the Golden 1 Center, but there is a positive vibe in Sacramento as they try to improve on last season’s 33 win season.