After a successful week of training camp and a statement preseason victory vs. the Phoenix Suns, one thing is clear in the Kingdom: chemistry seems to be an all-time high in this modern era of Kings basketball.
Between the mystery of the starting lineup and who will play where come the start of the regular season, clips are emerging from on and off the court that reveal a larger, maybe more meaningful picture, and the veteran leading the charge in a lot of these videos is none other than the first-year King Tristan Thompson.
Thompson’s stop on the Boston Celtics didn’t seem to fare well from a “gel” perspective, with rumors around the organization that he wasn’t exactly a great presence in the locker room. Add that to his struggles with the NBA’s health and safety protocols, and it’s safe to call Thompson’s career-low season in Boston a bust.
Prior to his pitstop in Boston, though, Thompson spent his entire NBA tenure in Cleveland, with four of those eight seasons coming alongside LeBron James. In 2016, the Cavaliers won their first-ever championship with Thompson as their starting center.
At media day, Thompson told reporters that he’s “been on the other side” of strong veteran leadership and feels it’s his job to ‘pay it forward’ to this roster’s bright future.
“I think it’s only right to take what I’ve learned from [LeBron] and pass it onto the younger generation and our stars that are coming in this league.” Thompson said. “When D. Fox and Tyrese and Davion get to my age, they pass it onto the next [generation] and that’s how you keep the league at a high level.”
Another member of that 2016 championship roster was a beloved figure in Sacramento. During the 2018-19 season, Iman Shumpert brought a big personality and positive morale to a second year De’Aaron Fox and rookie Marvin Bagley III, often being bookmarked by Kings fans as the last “fun” run in recent memory.
It was #PurpleTalk, it was the Sacramento Scores and it was fun as hell to watch.
Shumpert’s abrupt departure during the 2019 trade deadline was a head-scratcher for Kings fans, as that team never seemed to recover from his absence. Thompson says Shumpert was “huge” during Cleveland’s championship run and he plans to bring back the good things Shumpert left in Sacramento.
“[Shumpert] coming in here and working hard and doing what he does was great, so I’m just going to continue that, continue that and keep building.” Thompson said.
Kings fans will wait eagerly to see if another Cav can come through Sactown and bring the energy the team needs see so badly.