No team ran a slower-paced offense than the Sacramento Kings did last year. But the team wants a change heading into the upcoming season.
Sacramento averaged just 97.1 offensive possessions per game, which was the worst in the NBA. But their rookie point guard De’Aaron Fox ranked Top 25 in average speed (4.84 MPH) among those who played at least as many minutes when on offense. He’s even been considered by some the fastest player in the league.
The former Kentucky star has said that he believes he is faster than John Wall, which was actually confirmed by Wildcats head coach John Calipari. As such, it’s no surprise that Sacramento coach Dave Joerger discussed how he would like to utilize Fox’s speed next season (via ESPN):
“The best thing you can do for him is [to] play fast and give him as much room as possible. To play small and try to do that is best for De’Aaron. He’s our franchise guy. I think he is and I think everybody kind of agrees on that.”
The Kings averaged 99.1 possessions per 48 minutes when Fox was on the floor, which was the highest among all players on Sacramento.
This will be much easier to achieve with Marvin Bagley III in the first unit rather than Zach Randolph. Last season, the 36-year-old Randolph started 57 out of the 59 games that he played for the Kings. Next year, we can expect significantly more speed from Bagley. The rookie thrived in a relatively fast-paced style for Duke,
Jonathan Tjarks recently wrote about how the duo will be able to play next to each other (via The Ringer):
“The Kings should push the pace and let those two get out in transition as much as possible, where they can take advantage of their athleticism. Sacramento needs its two top-five picks to eventually become good shooters, but it has to work around that issue for the time being.”
Fox was used in transition on 22.8 percent of possessions last season, via Synergy Sports. But the Kings ran this play type on just 14.6 possessions per game – fewer than all but nine teams in the league.
Especially if he returns healthy, Sacramento forward Harry Giles is a player known to have “exceptional speed” for his height. Buddy Hield averaged 2.3 points per game on fastbreak opportunities, which ranked No. 2 overall when looking at all second-year players.
Even big man Willie Cauley-Stein averaged 1.38 points per possession in a transition offense for the Kings, which ranked in the 93rd percentile. Cauley-Stein was 58-for-76 (76.3 percent) on this play type, which was actually the best in the league among those with as many attempts.
Sacramento has a unique chance to run often and with Fox handed the keys to the offense, their pace will change significantly this season.