I wrote about DeMarcus Cousins and his sleek new physique - ok, he's not exactly sleek, but he is considerably slimmer - in Sunday's Bee, and wanted to add a few interesting observations from John Salmons. The former Kings small forward, who was re-acquired in the offseason from Milwaukee, last year played with Andrew Bogut, another skilled center. When I asked if he saw any similarities after a whopping one day of practice, he offered these thoughts on the Kings second-year center: "You definitely see the skills. I think the first thing that stuck out to me is his (Cousins') ability to pass the ball, being willing to pass the ball. I felt like he was trying to make the right play, trying to hit the cutter. That's good for us. When you can play through a big, it makes it so much easier for the perimeter guys, and the fact he can make a move and get a bucket when we need it is that much better."
Talk of the day
There was plenty of intrigue at practice, including Salmons' return, the addition of J.J. Hickson and Chuck Hayes, the presence of high profile rookie Jimmer Fredette. Coach Paul Westphal also showed off a trim new beard and implemented an egalitarian new offense that involves all five players, at least until the closing minutes. But the fact Cousins looked much slimmer than a year ago topped the, uh, scales as it were. (His body fat is getting close to his desired 13 percent). The second-year center was a major topic of conversation in the media viewing room, as well as in the locker room. "When I first saw him, I told him, 'oh, I can see you've been working out,' " related Francisco Garcia, with a grin. "I didn't want to say too much. You know him. He always has something to say. But he looks great."
A few quick thoughts ...
Fredette seemed to be trying too hard to fit in. Unfortunately, he didn't have a Summer League or a real training camp to ease into his rookie season. The practices and the games will come hard and fast, and I hope he doesn't get overwhelmed by the pressure to be anything other that what he is: a rookie.
In another life, the 6-foot-6 Chuck Hayes would have been a redwood tree. His lower body and legs are enormous. He also sets a mean pick, which the Kings shooters will love.
Westphal's new offensive system really generates ball and body movement. While we were only allowed to watch about an hour of the opening session, I can't recall a single possession where I wanted to scream, "Give it up!"
Tyreke Evans wasn't in great shape - Westphal thinks he could lose a few pounds - but he seems healthy for the first time in a long time. If he commits to becoming a better defender - in essence, a better all-around player - he and Salmons can be terrifically disruptive on the wings.
Westphal is opting for two-a-day practices for the next three days. That's the traditional approach, though some coaches have switched to longer, once-a-day sessions. Given the compressed training camps, who knows what works better? Three-four practices or shorter twice-daily practices with down time in the afternoon to recover? This entire 66-game season is just another experiment.