Tristan Thompson wanted to bring his veteran leadership and savvy to the Kings' young roster this season, and sure enough, had to interrupt rookie Davion Mitchell's postgame interview following Sacramento's preseason opener.
"Hell yeah, rook, first game, hell yeah, welcome to the NBA you got it," Thompson exclaimed as Mitchell was conducting his postgame interview following the 117-106 win over the Phoenix Suns. "No he was great tonight, D-Mitch was great, they tried to pick him up full court, I don't know what he was thinking but good work tonight."
Mitchell had made appearances in a Kings uniform for Summer League games in Sacramento and Las Vegas, but Monday night marked his first game alongside all of his NBA teammates.
The No. 9 overall pick of the 2021 NBA Draft scored seven points on 3-for-8 shooting from the field, also racking up three assists, two steals and a block. Mitchell's plus/minus of plus-20 was a team-high in the winning effort.
At 30 years old, Thompson is the elder statesman of the Kings' roster. He spoke at the outset of training camp about wanting to impart lessons learned from helping LeBron James win a championship in Cleveland on this Kings core that hasn't been able to translate talent and potential into sustained success.
“This team has a lot of very talented young players and I’ve been on the other side when me, Kyrie and Dion were in Cleveland and LeBron came back," Thompson said last week. "LeBron brought the energy and kind of brought that hard-work mentality each and every day, and I think it’s only right to take what I’ve learned from him and pass it on to the younger generation and our stars that are coming in this league.
“That’s how you keep this league growing and that’s how you keep the talent at a high level. Vets that learn great things from others and don’t want to pass it on, you’re doing a disservice to our league. It’s a brotherhood and a fraternity, so it’s my job to pay it forward and then when D. Fox and Tyrese and Davion get to my age, they pass it on to the next (generation) and that’s how you keep the league at a high level.”
Thompson had five points and four rebounds in just more than 11 minutes of action. Along with Alex Len, the duo will be the Kings' main frontcourt depth behind Richaun Holmes and Marvin Bagley.
It still is just preseason, but after the Kings went undefeated and won the Las Vegas Summer League championship in August, they are 1-0.
Thompson seems to be rubbing off on Mitchell already.