Kings Blog and Q&A

News, observations and reader questions about the Sacramento Kings and the NBA.

February 8, 2012
Smart happy improving Cousins is among NBA's Rising Stars

Kings coach Keith Smart couldn't be happier for DeMarcus Cousins.

The Kings center was selected to play in the Rising Stars Challenge Feb. 24 as part of NBA All-Star Weekend.

"General managers" Charles Barkley and Shaquille O'Neal will draft from a group of 18 players (nine rookies, nine sophomores) Feb. 16 on NBA TV to comprise Team Shaq and Team Chuck.

Smart took over for the fired Paul Westphal Jan. 5 and said Cousins has grown up a lot in a month's time.

"Everything I'd seen or heard about him I've seen a complete personality shift," Smart said.

Smart said Cousins has made strides not only with this play (15.3 points, 11.5 rebounds, 1.4 blocks per game) but in his approach off the court.

Smart said after Tuesday night's loss at Minnesota, Cousins joined assistant coach Jim Todd and Smart to go over the good and bad from his play against the Timberwolves.

Smart likes that Cousins is accepting coaching and becoming a leader while still having a lot of room for improvement.

"I think he's slowly understanding how important he is to the team with fouls and being in great shape," Smart said. "Those things are falling in place for him. He's doing all these things and he's not in the great shape of a Dwight Howard or a go-to post up move."

Jimmer Fredette and Isaiah Thomas were not selected among the rookies.

It's a deep class for guards and it's hard to argue either King would be ahead of Kyrie Irving, Ricky Rubio, Kemba Walker or Brandon Knight.

Players were selected by NBA assistant coaches from each team.

The Rookies

MarShon Brooks , New Jersey, G
Kyrie Irving , Cleveland , G
Brandon Knight , Detroit, G
Kawhi Leonard , San Antonio , G-F
Markieff Morris, Phoenix, F
Ricky Rubio, Minnesota, G
Tristan Thompson, Cleveland, F
Kemba Walker, Charlotte , G
Derrick Williams , Minnesota F

The Sophomores

DeMarcus Cousins, Sacramento, C
Landry Fields, New York, G
Paul George, Indiana, G-F
Blake Griffin L.A. Clippers, F
Gordon Hayward, Utah, F
Greg Monroe, Detroit, C
Tiago Splitter, San Antonio, F-C
Evan Turner, Philadelphia, G-F
John Wall, Washington, G

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