The Kings have said it all through training camp. The players, Luke Walton, and Monte McNair have all made it clear that this team is going to push the pace and run as often as possible.
If there was any takeaway from Sacramento’s first preseason game, it was that. The Kings made every effort to run. The results weren’t always effective, or even pretty, but there was a commitment to that style of play, and that’s something for the Kings to build on after a 127-102 loss to Portland to begin the preseason.
Most people point to De’Aaron Fox as the impetus for playing fast, as a guard with his speed shouldn’t be relegated to the half court, but the prime beneficiary of Sacramento’s speed Friday was Buddy Hield. Back in the starting lineup with Bogdan Bogdanovic in Atlanta, Hield flew down the court, hitting threes in transition and even cutting with all the space he was afforded in the half court. He led all scorers with 23 points, including five 3-pointers, in his 23 minutes.
As Walton indicated ahead of time, he didn’t want his starters playing more than about 25 minutes. Harrison Barnes logged 29 minutes, Richaun Holmes was at 27, and Fox 26, so that goal was mostly achieved. The Kings also got 11 bench players in the game, highlighted by Tyrese Haliburton. The rookie already looked comfortable — albeit at preseason intensity — and Cory Joseph looked sharp next to him in the second unit backcourt. Jahmi’us Ramsey was the other bright spot off the bench, sinking his first three and showing no hesitation in the offense.
Alas, the Blazers were also too comfortable scoring the ball, dropping 41 points in the first quarter and cruising to their final total of 127. It was particularly heartbreaking to see Harry Giles III show out in his first game against the Kings; he finished with 18 points, 13 rebounds and a windmill dunk in the final minutes.
But Sacramento is looking ahead. The Kings rookies were promising in their debut, and team gets another chance to take on Portland Sunday. On to the next one.