What is the biggest challenge for Dwane Casey? Keeping the players mentally or physically sharp?
(Rhett note: what a pointless question)
Well, I think there's a couple things. We talked a lot about the plan. We talked about being patient this year, preserving our flexibility, but one of the things that's so important is developing these players and letting them take these steps forward so that we can continue to build and grow toward those future seasons where we really put the hammer down on the final steps of the plan. It's not about winning games every single night. It's about taking positive steps forward, and I know that's a fine line to dance on especially as a coach trying to motivate your troops, and I would never tell a coach to lay down to make sure our draft pick is right.
We're going to go out there and try to do the best thing possible to advance this basketball team. Trying to stay focused and try to instill the culture change and layers of defensive sets and improving our offence. It's taking steps forward and positive steps toward that end goal. Again, it' a fine line, because you want to win, you want to keep your fans interested, you want to keep your players interested, heck, I want to keep the staff interested and make sure we're all looking at the same goal in the end, but Dwane and the staff have been doing an outstanding job. I believe the effort has been there in every single practice and in games with very few exceptions. You're going to have games like last night where things just don't go right, and we were facing a desperate team who were well-rested.
Long-winded question about resting starters in the 4th vs. Washington:
You know, Andrea — and by the way, Dwane has just done an outstanding job, he's even got Andrea playing defence here. He's been more focused. He didn't rebound the ball well last night but he's been playing at an all-star level without doubt. But for him to play 45-46 minutes the night prior, going into Washington, he wanted to get the win on Monday night which was the right thing to do. We got to DC and we're playing a desperate team, the fourth quarter was obviously out of reach so it was the right thing to do and it gives us the chance to evaluate and look at some of these other players. You've gotta find balance in a schedule like this and it's going to be one of those juggling acts all year long.
What's it going to take for DeMar DeRozan to buy into what Casey's selling?
I think the two most consistent players have been Andrea and Jose. We've seen great performances out of DeMar and even Ed Davis early, but you know, you want to make sure that these young guys, they're only 22 years old now. One is 21, one's 22. You've gotta get some level of consistency, in terms of the effort. That's the thing that typically drives the cosnistent performance, so we've gotta get them fofcused in, we've gotta make sure the effort's there night in, night out. You can't let a couple calls going against you get you off track. Or you can't let an inconsistent effort out there get you off track. So that's one of the things that I'm sure Dwane and the staff are focused on. You want to make sure these guys are taking positive steps forward every time they step on the floor. Again with youth, we've got a very young team, the core of our team, the guys who are playing the bulk of the minutes, are one of the youngest cores in the league. You're going to have inconsistent performances like that. You couple that with the tough schedule, that's one of the things that's a focal point right now for the discussions going on in the coaches' office. But DeMar clearly has the talent. He's got the skills to play both ends of the floor. And when he gets tuned in, he's going to be very solid.
Isn't being able to battle through the schedule the true test of the NBA?
Yeah. You look at a guy like DeMar, and the pure God-given talent and athleticism, and you say: OK, what is he doing to make sure he's getting everything out of his capabilities and his talent? You know, we've even talked to him about being consistent in the weight room night in and night out, because that time you spend in the weight room converts to energy on the court. It seems it makes you more fatigued and tired, but you know how it is, you're working out, you feel good about yourself, you have more energy, you eat better, you're burning calories, etc. The bottom line is though, he's a young kid, he's gotta learn better work habits. And again, I'm not saying he doesn't work hard, because he really does put the time in. But it's about being efficient, it's about being more focused, and again, it's great to have a guy like Alex McKechnie coming in from the Lakers. He can talk about watching the evolution of Kobe Bryant and talking about what Kobe has done to go from this level to obviously a very high level of performance. So those kinds of things are being discussed with DeMar. You look at these young guys, you gotta learn good work habits, you gotta learn how to be pros, and that's why we've brought in the Anthony Carters, the Jamal Magloires, we wanted them to have good, at least examples of what it takes to be a solid pro and look back on a 13-14 year career and say they accomplished something. Obviously with DeMar and Ed Davis, you're looking at guys with much more talent and a higher ceiling in terms of potential than the two that I mentioned, but at least they're there to establish some of these parameters.
What do you think of the Kings?
The bottom line is, they're going through a real tough situation right now. They're dealing with high talent, the talent that they've drafted was very high in the draft, and they're not getting the return they want. DeMarcus is a great talent but the question is, how much is he controlling them or is the franchise controlling him? It's already cost a few coaches their jobs. But again, you can't deny the talent. The question is, and we all had this question going into that draft, is he a controllable entity if you will? And they've now added some character pieces, I think that Jimmer is a high-character kid, he's a talent, he's a scorer, they've got a lot of scorers on this team, they've got a lot of guys who dominate the ball. Tyreke is not a true point but he's a great talent and he can score the ball as you know. He can get to the basket pretty much any time he wants. So they're building it a little bit differently. Going through a coaching change right now, I don't know what style they'll play under Keith Smart. I know Westphal really well, and he was an offensive coach which was probably good for the talent they have. They're a team in transition and they've been in transition for many years. They're searching for a new arena, they're searching for a following in the market right now, it's been a tough run for them but you can't deny that they've got good young talent on that team.