Chris Duarte

Duarte reveals qualities that make Kings' Sabonis great leader 

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Chris Duarte is happy to be reunited with a familiar face after he was traded from the Indiana Pacers to the Sacramento Kings over the summer.

Duarte and All-NBA center Domantas Sabonis were teammates for parts of two seasons in Indiana, where the pair developed a special connection that continues in Sacramento.

During an interview on NBC Sports California's "Kings Central," which debuted Friday, Duarte revealed to Morgan Ragan that the All-Star's personality immediately stood out, with Sabonis taking him under his wing early in his career after being selected No. 13 overall in the 2021 NBA Draft.

"It's his personality, the way he is," Duarte told Ragan. "If you're a good person and you show me that you are respectful and you care about the things you need to care about, the right things, I'm going to love you, because I love that. Domas, he just took me under his wing. He's always looking out for me.

"Walking me through because, obviously, he's been in the league longer than me. His personality on and off the court, he's a family man. Every time we get together and we talk, we always talk about how's your family is doing, how this is doing, and I like that, that's what I like the most. We go out to dinner, I'll come over to his house."

Duarte also explained why Sabonis is such a good leader, detailing how the big man sets the tone with his unselfish play.

"He just wants to win. He plays hard, he plays the right way, he wants to make his teammates better, that's what I love the most," Duarte shared. "You guys see it, every time he touches the ball, first thing he does is he looks around to see who's open. 'Who can I help? Oh, I can help you here.' Then, if he doesn't find anything, then he looks for his. That's what I love the most about him. He's all in, and that's what I love about him."

Since Sabonis was traded to Sacramento in February 2022, the Kings have become one of the league's most competitive teams. He had a monster 2022-23 season, earning an All-Star selection and All-NBA honors while helping Sacramento end a 16-year playoff drought.

The dynamic big man picked up right where he left off, averaging 19.6 points, 12 rebounds and 7.4 assists in 30 games during the 2023-24 season. Aside from his stellar play on the court, Sabonis' impact behind the scenes has helped create a winning culture that has completely turned around the Kings franchise.

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