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Royal Reading: The Kings need to push the pace

Head coach Luke Walton should get his team focusing on the fast break when the NBA returns.

Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images

The NBA’s return to play is inching closer. Sacramento Kings players who left the market are expected to be back in the city on Monday. Players will be conducting workouts at the team’s practice facility, with the full training camp slated to begin on June 30.

If things go according to plan, teams will be in Orlando by July 7 to continue practicing in preparation for the resumption of the regular season, which is scheduled for July 30.

The Kings are sitting 3.5 games behind the Memphis Grizzlies for the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference. Under the league’s new format, teams will play eight seeding games before the NBA playoffs begin. If Sacramento is the No. 9 seed and within four games of the eighth seed, it will advance to the play-in round.

NBC California’s James Ham wrote a nice piece on one aspect head coach Luke Walton needs to focus on in order for his squad to have a chance to end its 14-year playoff drought. The key is pace.

Here is what Ham had to say:

“The easy answer would be for the Kings to come out in their eight games and run teams off the court, but once again, there is a very short window to get the players into the type of shape they would need to be in to implement this plan. While the 2020 offseason will be shortened and there are major potential changes coming to the Kings’ roster, the focus for Walton should be on continuing to build a base that is sustainable in Sacramento. Hopefully, that comes with an increased focus on pushing the tempo and playing to the strengths of the roster.”

I agree with Ham that it will be tough to get the players into good enough shape that they can sustain pushing the pace throughout a 48-minute game. But the Kings do have youth on their side, with players like De’Aaron Fox and Bogdan Bogdonavic leading the way.

As Ham points out, Sacramento played at a pace of 100 or higher with Fox in the lineup. The Kings rank 23rd in the league in pace at 99.08 for the season, but since Fox returned from an ankle injury in mid-December, Sacramento is No. 15 in pace, per

Walton has deservedly been criticized for his lack of creativity with his offensive scheme, so hopefully he has taken the time during the hiatus to implement a system that plays to the strengths of the roster.

On to some more links:

What do oddsmakers think of the Kings’ chances in Orlando? USA TODAY’s Jess Root broke down the Vegas odds for Sacramento going into the restart.

Although oddsmakers aren’t too high on the Kings, they still have the potential to surprise teams. Bleacher Report’s Sean Highkin breaks down which teams can shock the world in Orlando.

The NBA Draft is scheduled for Oct. 25. We don’t know where Sacramento will be picking, but B/R’s Zach Buckley has the Kings taking a shooting guard in his latest mock draft.

From around the NBA:

There are a lot of rules in place for players who make the trip to Orlando. ESPN’s Brian Windhorst and Tim Bontemps give an in-depth look into what players can expect.