SACRAMENTO -- Kevin Durant said what? It appears that the Warriors star likes what he sees with the young Kings, and with the direction that coach Dave Joerger is leading the team in.
During Wednesday's episode of the Bill Simmons podcast, the former NBA MVP spoke highly about the team 90 miles up the road.
“I feel like the West, I feel like the teams that are supposed to make the next jump in their progression, like Sac, they’re making that next jump,” Durant said. “I like Sac. I like coach Joerger because playing against him in the playoffs, you really gain a respect for a coach because how they scheme and how they take away stuff. You really realize how much work they put into it.”
“I see a coach like that and he’s got these guys playing a different way than he’s used to coaching, because he’s more of a grit and grind, throw it inside, high-low type of coach with Marc [Gasol] and Z-Bo [Zach Randolph],” Durant said. “They’re playing fast. He’s putting the ball in his players' hands and giving them the opportunity to take advantage of the opportunity they have and putting them in great positions to be successful. I’m like, that’s the sign of a good coach and you can tell his players like that.”
The Kings have quietly been receiving more and more praise around the league as they continue to fight through their difficult early-season schedule. They play at an incredible pace and their opponents just can’t keep up on many nights.
Following shootaround, NBC Sports California was able to catch up with the Kings’ coach to discuss the comments from Durant.
“I think it’s tremendous for our organization and also for our city and our very passionate fans,” Joerger said. “There’s been some hard times here and it seems like there’s been a lot of shots taken at this organization throughout the course of the years and now, we’re showing a lot of people that we’re really solid, that there’s a solid foundation for the future. There is absolutely a direction and a vision. I think that gives people confidence.”
The Kings were picked by the oddsmakers to win just 25.5 games this season and they’ve been favored to win just four times through 26 games. At 14-12, they are surprising teams and starting to build some momentum.
“Maybe we’re a little ahead at this point in the season of where everyone thought we would be and I think that’s kind of fun to surprise some people,” Joerger said.
The league is slowly starting to take notice of the Kings. They have a long way to go and their schedule for the next 13 games is brutal, but if they continue to play hard and compete, they have a chance every time they step on the court.