Spurs coach Gregg Popovich praises Kings' drastically changed culture

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich praises Kings' drastically changed culture

SACRAMENTO -- At 8-6, questions in the Kings’ locker room are changing. It’s no longer about moral victories or searching for shiny pennies in a sea of murkiness. The tide has shifted to more important issues, like culture and winning.

On Monday, the quote of the night regarding the state of the Kings didn’t even come from someone employed by the home team. It came from one of the most powerful voices in the game.

“I was really impressed, their culture is changing — it’s changed drastically,” legendary Spurs coach Gregg Popovich told reporters. “Guys are committed, guys are physical, taking some pride in defense.

“I think Vlade [Divac] and the team have made some good moves, and I think Dave [Joerger]’s done a great job of bringing that group together. They look really good. It’s impressive.”

Sacramento will take the compliment. After dropping 14 consecutive games to the Spurs, the Kings pulled out a wild 104-99 win over San Antonio. They ran the floor, pushed the tempo, and they got the stops when they needed them. It was a team effort and a team win.

“It’s a totally different approach in this season,” Bogdan Bogdanovic said. “It’s tough to go in a season, what was it, like 1-8, 1-9 last year. It’s totally different when after 14 games you have 8-6. We [are] really trying to make the playoffs this year, and I know that sounds crazy for somebody, but that’s our motivation.”

The vibe is completely different around the team. During pregame, almost all of the players sit in their locker stall conversing. It’s a light and fun atmosphere, and the players genuinely get along and like one another. 

It wasn’t a bad locker room last season, but the team had no identity. It was 10 players with very little NBA experience and a couple of veterans trying to guide the ship.

This season, the youth of the team has taken ownership of the program. They have found what works for them, and they are feeding off the positive energy.

“I think the culture was changed before our first game, through the guys,” a passionate Willie Cauley-Stein said. “I’ve been here for four years, and this is the first time that everybody is on one page, that everybody likes playing with each other and everybody like really cares if you do well.”

“In the past, it was like, these two dudes need to get their numbers, and if we win, it’s cool,” Cauley-Stein continued. “Now it’s like, we’re playing for everybody else to play good. We’re helping each other to play good. It’s more fun that way.”

Winning cures all. That’s not a new a thing in professional sports, but after 12 years of futility, it was a forgotten idea in Sacramento. 

Teams around the NBA are noticing there is something different happening with the Kings. More importantly, the players inside the walls of Golden 1 Center feel the change, and that’s refreshing. 

De'Aaron Fox responds to remarks on NBA Most Improved Player candidacy

De'Aaron Fox responds to remarks on NBA Most Improved Player candidacy

De'Aaron Fox doesn't have time for your snippy comments.

On Thursday, the Kings posted an image on Instagram stating Fox's case to win the Most Improved Player award.

Among the hundreds of comments were fans stating Fox was supposed to improve from Year 1 to Year 2.

He wasn't having it.

As NBC Sports California's James Ham wrote, Fox took a massive leap this past season. The point guard went from 11.6 points per game as a rookie to 17.3 as a sophomore. His assist numbers spiked from 4.4 to 7.3. And he improved vastly as a shooter, boosting his field-goal percentage from 41 percent to 45 percent. From 3-point range, Fox went from 30 percent to 37 percent.

[RELATED: How Kings chose Fox over Luka with draft choices]

But the competition for the award will be fierce. Along with teammate Buddy Hield, Raptors forward Pascal Siakam, Nets guard D'Angelo Russell, Clippers big man Montrezl Harrell and Hawks forward Jon Collins also will garner lots of support.

One thing is for sure. Fox definitely is Most Likely To Snap Back At Your Comments.

Why NBA journeyman Corey Brewer hopes he found steady home with Kings


Why NBA journeyman Corey Brewer hopes he found steady home with Kings

Corey Brewer has been around the NBA. 

The Kings are the eighth team the journeyman forward has suited up for in his 12-year career, and the ninth organization he's been a part of overall. But after finishing the 2018-19 season in California's capital, Brewer hopes he has found a more permanent home. 

“Just being around these young guys has been fun,” Brewer told the Kings' website. “Just being able to help them as best I can, and knowing how good they can be and how good they’re going to be.”

After Sacramento traded Iman Shumpert ahead of the deadline, Brewer gave the young Kings team some much-needed veteran leadership. The 33-year-old signed a pair of 10-day contracts in January, before signing with the team for the remainder of the season in February. 

“He’s been good for us,” point guard De’Aaron Fox said back in February. “When he gets on the court, you know what he’s going to bring.”

[RELATED: Walton must improve defense for Kings to win]

In 24 games with the Kings, Brewer averaged 4.1 points and 2.5 rebounds in just under 15 minutes per. His impact was particularly felt on the defensive end, as writer Alex Kramers noted, where Sacramento gave up 4.1 fewer points per 100 possessions with him on the floor,

Brewer can become an unrestricted free agent this summer, but it sounds like he doesn't have much intention of signing anywhere else.