Dave Joerger is keen to build "a tough defensive-minded unit” in Sacramento

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The Sacramento Kings are preparing for a new era under newly appointed head coach Dave Joerger that they hope will see the team win and make it back to the playoffs.

The Kings have missed the postseason for 10 straight years - the NBA's second-longest playoff drought behind the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Under George Karl, Sacramento ended the 2015-16 campaign with a 33-49 record and never really threatened to break into the top eight in the Western Conference. 

When the regular season ended, star player DeMarcus Cousins couldn't hide his frustration at going another season without showcasing his undeniable talent on the league's biggest stage, something which he's still yet to do.

"It's the worst feeling ever," Cousins said. "Every season, ending early. It's a terrible feeling." 

The goal for Joerger is clear and, having guided the Memphis Grizzlies to the playoffs in each of his three years in charge, he has the necessary experience to make it happen in Sacramento. 

The 42-year-old is considered as one of the most talented coaches in the league and the Kings acted quickly in snapping him up once the Grizzlies decided to part ways with him. 

Joerger is now ready to stamp his authority on the franchise and bring a sense of stability and authority to the team, something it's lacked for a number of years. 

The head coach has wasted little time getting stuck in as he has decided to coach the Kings' Summer League team and get a head start working with some of the talented young players on the roster. 

Speaking to reporters after the first day of the Summer League Mini-Camp, Joerger outlined exactly what he wants to build. 

“We are trying to be a tough defensive-minded unit that cares about each other and plays for each other,” he said. “We want to get after people as much as possible.”

Among the 13 players on show for the first day of Mini Camp was rookie Skal Labissiere, who was the 28th overall pick in the draft. 

“We worked on helping each other, help defence and being in the right position at the right time,” Labissiere told the media after his first NBA-level practice. “Communication, that was the biggest thing.”

Every team plays in the Summer League for different reasons and Joerger says for Sacramento, it's all about building the confidence of specific players.

"This year we want to see Willie's [Cauley-Stein] confidence rise and not just be a rim-runner and dunk guy," he said. "We want to get a chance to see other things, work on his game a little bit, handle the basketball a little bit, not as a point guard but in the offence." 

"Then from there it's the young guys, how can we give them a real taste of NBA basketball, NBA life and NBA practices of coming in and putting your hard hat on. Give them a real good experience."  

Summer league play begins Friday night for the Kings when they take on the Toronto Raptors.

Western Conference
Sacramento Kings
Pacific Division
DeMarcus Cousins
Rudy Gay

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