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ESPN's Bruce Bowen joins us to talk Kings

ESPN's Bruce Bowen discusses the Kings leading up to tonight's game against the Pistons.

ESPN gave Sactown Royalty the opportunity to interview NBA Analyst Bruce Bowen leading up tonight's Kings v. Pistons game.

The former defensive specialist for the San Antonio Spurs now appears regularly on SportsCenter, NBA Tonight, NBA Coast to Coast and across ESPN platforms. He also hosts an NBA Lockdown podcast with Israel Gutierrez.

Mark Jones will call tonight's Kings game on ESPN with Doris Burke.

Below are some questions and answers with Bowen about the Kings.

The Kings are trying to turn the corner on defense. New head coach Michael Malone has preached it all offseason and at the start of the season. How does a team that has been traditionally bad on defense turn it around without any particularly stellar defensive players? How difficult/how long do you think it can take to turns things around and adapt to a defensive-centric focus?

I think No. 1, they have to play hard. And really start to realize how important paying attention to detail is in the game of basketball. It's no longer just, 'hey, let's go shoot some hoops.' It's playing with a purpose. Sometimes the correlation of playing with a purpose with young players is hard to necessarily build upon because they don't have the experience. They don't understand what it takes. They don't understand that just because they are not guarding the ball that they are still involved with the defensive play. There's rotations, paying attention to detail. Knowing who shoots the three ball real well, knowing who wants to drive more than pull up for jump shots.

It's more about the education and the environment that they are in. If you come from an environment where you've never had a priority on defense, it's going to take some time because you have to break them down. You have to break them down in order to build them up, especially with younger ball clubs and a team like Sacramento that is trying to move forward as they continue to grow together.

Two of the Kings' key pieces of the future are DeMarcus Cousins and rookie Ben McLemore, what do you see in those players? Cousins has had the maturity card follow him throughout his career. He now has his contract, Shaq in his corner as a mentor (and minority owner of the Kings) and stability throughout the franchise. Do you think he can turn the corner and be the leader the Kings want him to be?

We see plenty of talent with DeMarcus Cousins, it's just a matter of responsibility. He's a young player and I don't like to tear down players as far as the issues that they've had in the past. But at the same time, I think if there's a lesson to be learned it's the fact that we have to understand where he comes from. You can't expect players that have never really been held accountable for anything to all of a sudden come to the NBA and now they are held accountable. It takes some time. It takes some things that they've never had before. And because of that, that's the process that is always the hardest.

In his opinion, there's nothing wrong with the way he's acting because people have condoned that before. Now that you have a coach like Mike Malone and new ownership, it's going to be a little different. He has to adapt and realize that the change he's going to go through and the experiences he'll go through with those changes all are to benefit him and make him a better player and a better person as well. If you're the face of the franchise or you're the head person, you are going to have to learn to be able to humble yourself so that others can have an opportunity to succeed.

On McLemore and with rookies, it's always tough because everything is so new to them. They've never played 82 games before. They've never had the amount of scrutiny on them because of maybe where they've been drafted, or the expectations that an organization or reporters have on them. It will be key for him to just continue on this year and reflect on some of the most difficult times he experienced in college and try to correlate that with what he's doing in the NBA.

Sacramento has a new arena plan in place meaning Sleep Train Arena's, or as you knew it, Arco Arena's, days are numbered. What is your fondest memory of playing there?

[Laughter] Woooooo, I was with the Heat and we were up 20 at halftime. So, we're feeling good about ourselves. When I say all it took was a couple of jump shots to go in, it got so loud. I remember Tim Hardaway - the only reason why I knew the play was because he mouthed it - but he was screaming. We couldn't hear it because of the environment. When you have that, it's an awesome, awesome experience.

[Laughter] But when you're going against that kind of stuff, woooo, now that regular, wide-open shot, not as wide-open as it was before.

Were you following the whole Seattle v. Sacramento battle closely? What were your thoughts during all of that?

I was following it and I think Seattle's a fantastic place. Now, mind you, I'm from Fresno, less than two hours away from Sacramento. I enjoyed being in Sacramento as well because a lot of family got a chance to come see their favorite NBA player play in Sacramento [laughter].

I have mixed feelings. I understand what they were spoiled with in Adelman and those players back in that time. They want to see that again and you can't fault a community for wanting that. But at the same time, you don't want to uproot a team and just take them to Seattle. I just think that we need a team in Seattle because it's such a beautiful place. Not a lot of people understand that because they don't get a chance to get out there and see what it has to offer.

The Kings have struggled to find consistency at the small forward position for many years now, how does having a hole at that spot impact a team?

You can only fulfill that through draft selection and free agents. You have pieces. You have a lot of small forwards there - it's just a matter of building. Time only tells with that. The most important thing is that you don't give up on the individuals you have at that particular moment. Give them a true opportunity and see what they can to do help the ball club.

Lastly, everyone at Sactown Royalty would be upset with me if I didn't ask: would you be interested in playing small forward for the Kings?

[Laughter] All of your readers are wondering what you're thinking. Bringing in this 42-year-old, slow, skinny guy that can't do anything. I know the Fresno folks would like that though. [Laughter]