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Albert King Q&A Part II:
Pointing Toward Progress

May 13, 2009
By Ben Couch -- NJNETS.COM

East Rutherford, N.J.Last week, Albert King took some time to look back at the Nets' 1984 playoff upset of the defending champion Philadelphia 76ers. He also discussed several topics relevant to New Jersey's current roster, from playing alongside familiar faces to the development of an "up-and-coming team" into contenders. Check out our exclusive interview below! You and Buck Williams joined the Nets as rookies after playing together three years at Maryland. How did that help you adjust to the NBA?

Albert King: Well its always good to have someone that youve played with before, because in basketball, it all comes down to routine at a certain point: you dribble the ball to a certain spot, you shoot the ball from a certain spot. And if the person knows what youre going to do before you do it, it just helps you out as far as playing together. We might be in a pick-and-roll: I dribble off the pick, and then Buck knows Im throwing a bounce pass. If its someone new, he doesnt know if a bounce pass is coming or a lob pass. Whenever you play with someone that youve played with before, it definitely benefits you. What about off-court? Our rookies Ryan Anderson and Brook Lopez, who are both from California, are inseparable. Did you and Buck hang out once you arrived in New Jersey?

Albert King: Not at all -- Im a New Yorker, hes a country guy. [Laughs] We were good friends, though Im from New York and hes from the country, so youd think we wouldnt mix together. But we were good friends on the court and off the court. It was good days at Maryland, and we had good times with the Nets, too. Being a Brooklyn native, what was it like playing close to your hometown?

Albert King: It was absolutely nice -- your parents got to come to the games! The only bad thing was everybody wanted tickets. All your junior high school friends, who you didnt know you had then, would call for tickets. The best thing in the world is to play close to home. Its a dream to play in the NBA, first, and to play close to home, thats even better. Knowing how your team progressed, making the first round twice before defeating the defending champs in the third year, and looking at other teams in the league, is it better for a young team to gradually build toward success instead of surprise all at once?

Albert King: Long-term, if you want to consistently get back there, I think thats probably the way it works. I think young teams that get to the next round and maybe get to the Conference Finals, you probably wont see them again. Remember a team like the (1994) Denver Nuggets, they beat the No. 1 seed (Seattle). Young teams that have a lot of success quick, they usually become too confident. But if you see a gradual progression where they get better and better, usually thats where you have teams that are going to be successful long-term, because theyre getting that experience.

But as far as Do you want to lose? You never want to lose! Whether youre a young team or a veteran team, you want to go to the next round. But there are teams that progress, each year you see them getting better and better, like the Detroit Pistons over the years when they were always there. Theres different teams. The Nets went to the Finals two years in a row, but you dont always have the opportunity for a great player, Jason Kidd -- somebody who came out of nowhere, to turn the team around. But when you have a team that stays together and you have a nucleus, youll see them grow together. Brook Lopez was a steady contributor all season, but it wasn't until the end of the year that Ryan Anderson and Chris Douglas-Roberts really found their grooves. How important are those late-season minutes to a young player's development?

Albert King: Its very important. I think the big word is minutes. Every player wants minutes. If youre young, if youre old, you want minutes. I was very impressed with Brook Lopez throughout the whole year. You saw him develop because he had minutes. Thats a key word with NBA players; they want their minutes.

Douglas-Roberts didnt have the opportunity until people were hurt, and then you saw how athletic he was. Brook Lopez is someone who had the opportunity to develop over the year. Douglas-Roberts is someone I think that if he came in at the beginning of the year or the end of the year, his athletic ability would have taken over and he would have done well. Now, Ryan Anderson had to make sure he had an opportunity on a unit first unit or second unit where he was getting open, because hes a shooter. And in order for him to develop, he has to have shots. Because if hes not getting shots, itll be very hard for him to develop as a basketball player. You have Douglas-Roberts as a scorer, slasher who can take the ball to the hole; Brook Lopez, whos a guy that someones going to throw him the ball inside and get him shots; Anderson needs to just line up at the three-point line and catch the ball. Make sure hes got guys he can develop with that are going to dribble-drive and kick it out to him, leading to open three-point shots.

With those three guys, thats a very nice core. You dont find three young kids coming in at the same time that you can build around like that. Thats very impressive. Rod and Kiki are doing their scouting. You previously mentioned Michael Ray Richardson being one of the best pure point guards ever. When you've got a guy like Devin Harris, who's such a talented scorer, how can he raise his game even further than he did this past season?

Albert King: I guess whats going to elevate his game is the players around him, because hes an All-Star. The good thing about being an All-Star is that youre going to get calls next year. Youre going to get fouls that you probably wouldnt, and youll go to the line a lot more. The tendency is, when youre an All-Star, for the whistle to blow a little bit more (often). Hes so quick. He needs guys that are going to fill the wing for him, that are going to make his game a lot better because hes so quick with the ball. He dribbles faster than some guys run the court! For him to elevate his game ... he already knows how to dribble, he knows how to pass, hes a very good shooter -- he needs the players around him to develop him a lot more, or else its going to be hard for him because hes so good already.

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