News » It isn't easy being Kings: Natt has one tough job

It isn't easy being Kings: Natt has one tough job

It isn't easy being Kings: Natt has one tough job
For a guy who just got a promotion with more money, responsibility and prestige, interim coach Kenny Natt is in tough.

Maybe it wasn't exactly a promotion. He's coaching a team that has lost 18 of its past 21 games.

Spencer Hawes and Jason Thompson began the season playing well, but in recent days have looked like what they are: young, talented and inexperienced players searching to find their places in a dog-eat-dog NBA.

Things may have come to easily too early for them and because they give a damn, they are shouldering responsibility that their most experienced teammates should be handling.

When a youngster attempts to grow without true identifiable leadership or direction or even head-coaching consistency, that growth is stunted.

Now, there is no excuse for point guard Beno Udrih. He's no spring chicken, and with a five-year, $32 million deal, confidence should not be an issue. He was given the rock and loot by Basketball president Geoff Petrie and has responded more often than not as if he's waiting to see the wizard for a heart.

Bobby Jackson is the closest thing this team has to a leader. Given the opportunity, he lays it on the line every game. Yet, the man isn't called "O.G." (short for "original gangster") because he's in his prime. The man will battle to the end. He and former coach Reggie Theus butted heads because they saw things differently. Jackson always felt he was working on a short leash, while Theus wanted and needed what he wanted immediately. So even Jackson had a cross to bear while attempting to lead, often from the bench.

Predictably, Jackson has responded positively to the coaching change.

Although no concrete observations about Natt can be made six games (five losses) into his tenure, Jackson says Natt has brought an approach he believes this team needs.

"I can see we're much more ready to come out and play games," Jackson said Friday night after scoring 17 points and grabbing six rebounds in a 107-101 loss to Toronto.

"Really, I can't describe why it's like that. The sets we're running offensively are different. There is a little more structure and discipline, and maybe that's why there is more focus. We practice differently. Coach doesn't play. There's no playing around and talking to be talking. And that's nothing against Reggie.

"We just have to do it the way (Natt) tells us to do it. He comes from that old-school, Jerry Sloan way of doing things. And I think you need a more structured environment with young guys."

The Kings also need resistance from their big men. Hawes and Thompson are too green. Mikki Moore is too thin. Brad Miller has proven he'll back up and/or fall more often than stand strong and upward.

On the immediate fix-it list, Hawes has to get into the post and work his way outside. He has shot 50 percent from the field in just three of his past 19 games. For a team with virtually no post presence, Hawes and Thompson are it. And both, like virtually all youngsters, have to slow down to be effective.

Hawes, though, has a legitimate post game that should be utilized as the team's first option. There's a place to start. If the Kings are going to go down, it should be with their young boys. Hawes and Thompson should start and start and start.

Coach: Put your most competitive players on the floor. That could mean you sit Beno's butt on the bench, too, for Bobby Brown. At this point, though, what is there to lose?

Call The Bee's Martin McNeal, (916) 326-5504.

Author: Fox Sports
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Added: December 29, 2008


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