With big thanks to a 15-12 start that has shocked pretty much everyone, the Kings have been generating a lot of praise this season. First there was Spurs coach and all-around legend Gregg Popovich talking about the clear culture change and now Warriors forward Kevin Durant has gone out of his way for the second time to pay his respects to the Kings.
After Sacramento’s narrow 116-117 loss to the Warriors last month, Durant heaped compliments on the Kings and especially second-year guard De’Aaron Fox.
“If you hand the ball over to De’Aaron Fox, he will change your franchise,” Durant said. “That is the type of player he is, no-nonsense, come to work type of player. He is going to play for his teammates. He didn’t shoot the ball well tonight, but you can tell he dictates the pace and he made Quinn (Cook) work all night.”
“They got a nice team,” Durant added. “They just young right now, but they are going to be really good in the future.”
Then on Wednesday, Durant joined Bill Simmons on his podcast and started speaking about the Kings unprompted, focusing mostly on Coach Dave Joerger (the conversation turns to the Kings around the 8:30 mark of the podcast).
“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 and Z-Bo. 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.”
It’s really refreshing to see the Kings being talked about in a good light, no matter where it comes from, but it’s even better when it comes from someone like Kevin Durant. The opinion of the Kings is shifting, and players and others around the league are noticing. That’s a big deal after years of being the butt of everyone’s jokes. It’s a big deal when it comes to attracting players in free agency or convincing them to stay.
We’re 27 games in and it’s clear the Kings can’t be considered a fluke at this point. Will they make the playoffs? Who knows, but that question doesn’t sound nearly as silly as it would have even just a month ago. These Kings are fun and they’re only going to get better as these guys continue to grow.
(Also KD to Sacramento CONFIRMED)