Vezenkov, Duarte on the adjustments they are making in preseason
Oct 13, 2023, 3:32 PM
(Photo by Jordan Jones/NBAE via Getty Images)
Things are beginning to heat up around the Sacramento Kings’ practice facility as we inch closer to October 25th’s season opener in Salt Lake City.
With two preseason games in the books, the Kings spent Friday’s practice preparing for Sunday’s matchup against the Golden State Warriors at Golden 1 Center.
This session had a different feel, unlike previous practices that the media were permitted to enter and view.
Practice was full of passion and energy, with Sacramento running through full-contact five-on-five scrimmages and an extensive free-throw shooting drill that resulted in sprints if shots were missed.
Kings head coach Mike Brown was more fiery than usual on Friday, as the NBA’s reigning Coach of the Year lit into some players who were failing to get back and defend in transition after taking a field goal attempt.
Defense will be a massive talking point for the 2023-24 Sacramento Kings, and two players that will fall under the magnifying glass while on the floor spoke to the media following the intensive practice session.
Rookie forward Sasha Vezenkov’s defense will be watched closely during the Kings’ final three preseason games, and it’s going to be interesting to see how last year’s EuroLeague MVP adjusts to the NBA’s game speed and physicality.
“I’ve ssaid many times that winning is a habit, so we have to make this a habit and win games even if it’s like friendly or pick up,” Vezenkov said following Friday’s practice.
“We have to raise our intensity, our physicality, and we have to keep getting better. Physicality still the biggest issue right now. I think we struggle lon both ends of the court, but I think like we we’re improving. A little bit slower maybe than what we expected, but that’s why we were working, and that’s why it’s still October.”
Vezenkov filled in for Keegan Murray (thumb soreness) on Wednesday, and you can expect to see the 28-year-old back in a reserve role on Sunday with Murray set to be back in action following a one-game absence.
Duarte brushed off a rough showing in his preseason debut by scoring 10 points off the bench on four-of-four shooting from the field (two-of-two from three-point range) while swiping a steal over 16 minutes of playing time.
The defensive end is going to be a factor in how much playing time Durate sees this season, and the former Oregon Duck is up for the challenge.
“Just being physical,” Duarte said when asked what he is looking for from himself on the defensive end. “I’ve got to keep doing that, being up on the guys and playing smart.”
For the first time since April 30th, basketball will be played at Golden 1 Center on Sunday evening when the Kings face their Northern California rival Golden State Warriors.
Be sure to tune in right here on Sactown Sports 1140 for all of your Kings vs. Warriors coverage, beginning at 5:00 PM PST on Game Night before a 6:30 PM PST tip-off from downtown Sacramento.
Sacramento Kings 2023-24 Preseason Schedule
- Sunday, October 15th – Sacramento Kings vs. Golden State Warriors – 6:30 PM PST
- Wednesday, October 18th – Sacramento Kings @ Golden State Warriors – 7 PM PST
- Thursday, October 19th – Sacramento Kings vs. Utah Jazz – 7 PM PST
Sacramento Kings 2023-24 Regular Season Schedule
- Tuesday, October 24th – NBA regular season begins
- Wednesday, October 25th – Sacramento Kings @ Utah Jazz – 6 PM PST (Season Opener)
- Friday, October 27th – Sacramento Kings vs. Golden State Warriors – 7 PM PST (Home Opener)
- Sunday, October 29th – Sacramento Kings vs. Los Angeles Lakers – 6 PM PST
- Wednesday, November 1st – Sacramento Kings @ Golden State Warriors – 7 PM PST