Jeff Van Gundy praises Kings' Dave Joerger as early Coach of the Year


Jeff Van Gundy sat courtside and announced the Sacramento Kings-Golden State Warriors preseason game for ESPN back on Oct. 5 in Seattle. The former New York Knicks and Houston Rockets coach jumped all over the Kings throughout the game, as they fell behind early and were trounced 122-94 by the Warriors.

Van Gundy hasn’t called a Kings game since, but on Halloween night, he brought up coach Dave Joerger and the upstart Kings as he played analyst in the Pacers-Knicks game from Madison Square Garden.

“Can I give you an early candidate for Coach of the Year?” Van Gundy asked broadcast partner Mark Davis. “Dave Joerger. Sacramento is 5-3. We had them in Seattle, and I thought if they won 15 games, I thought it would be a miracle.”

Van Gundy might have mentioned that 15-game win total in the Kings’ loss to the Warriors. He wasn’t impressed at all with what he was seeing, but he clearly has made a 180-degree turnaround after a quick start by Sacramento.

“The statue in Sacramento, they should build it now,” Van Gundy said of Joerger. “The job he and his staff have done to get them playing at an efficient level offensively with movement, the spirit they’ve shown. They just beat Miami and Orlando on the road.”

The word is getting out around the NBA. The Kings are playing excellent basketball through the first two weeks of the NBA season. They push the tempo, and their young core is starting to show major signs of development.

After running off four consecutive wins, the Kings will look to make it five in a row Thursday night in Atlanta. It’s another test for a team that is riding high, but there is a little bit of history on the line. The Kings haven’t won in Atlanta since March 2006, a stretch of 11 games.

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