During the NBA offseason, Sacramento Kings head coach Luke Walton committed to having his team play faster.
One of the criticisms faced last season was the team’s lack of imagination on the offensive end. The Kings didn’t have a ton of movement when in the halfcourt and finished 19th in pace last season at 99.60 possessions per 48 minutes.
Sacramento brought in veteran NBA coach Alvin Gentry to help modernize the offense and look for more fast-break opportunities. With lightning-quick point guard De’Aaron Fox being the focal point of the Kings’ attack, pushing the ball feels like the natural fit.
Even though Sacramento has only played two preseason games, the early results are encouraging. The Kings’ pace numbers are up, sitting at 106.25, which means the team is getting roughly seven more possessions per game compared to last season.
Walton needs to keep encouraging his guys to get out and run whenever possible. Fox has all the tools to wreak havoc in the open court, and with rookie Tyrese Haliburton and Buddy Hield running alongside him, Sacramento should be able to put added pressure on opposing defenses.
It will be interesting to see if the Kings continue to play at an improved pace once the regular season begins. If the team falters back to its habits from last season, we could see people calling for a head coaching change.
Walton isn’t general manager Monte McNair’s guy, so the leash will be a little bit tighter for the returning head coach.
On to some links:
Not only are the Kings playing faster, they’re also shooting more 3s. Walton explains why he is OK with the team attempting more shots from beyond the arc this season. (Kings.com)
Haliburton looked a lot more comfortable in his second preseason game. Jason Jones of The Athletic says the rookie took the advice from people around him who encouraged him to be more aggressive.
The Kings have one of the youngest cores in the league. Adam Caparell of Complex lists two Sacramento players on his best NBA players who are under the age of 24.
With the regular season right around the corner, NBA pundits are beginning to share their predictions for the upcoming season. ESPN’s NBA Insiders have the Kings near the bottom of the Western Conference standings.