Monte McNair said the Kings are going to push the pace this season. Luke Walton said the Kings are going to push the pace this season. De’Aaron Fox said the Kings are going to push the pace the season. Harrison Barnes took it a step further.
“Running primarily and getting out in transition will, one, just increase our pace, increase some of the shots we’ll be able to get, but it’s just maximizing the personnel that we have. When we have a guy like Fox, who is one of the most dynamic players in the league, to not capitalize on that is criminal.”
After finishing the 2018-19 season with the fifth-fastest pace in the league, the Kings looked like a team running with concrete sneakers last year. Injuries played a substantial role in the decision to slow things down, but Sacramento posted the 20th-fastest pace in the NBA and seemed to lose its identity.
The Kings are going to need to do more than just run if they hope to win consistently, but pushing the pace can hide plenty of issues with the roster.
“At the end of the day, you can’t run the entire game,” Barnes said. “There are going to be times where you have to execute.”
Execution might be an issue for Sacramento. With an abbreviated training camp, Walton and his staff have a tall order. They have to get their team physically ready for the rigors of an up-tempo offense, but they also have to teach half the roster new terminology and schemes.
Sacramento lost Bogdan Bogdanovic, Kent Bazemore, Alex Len and Harry Giles in free agency. The Kings have replaced that group with players like Hassan Whiteside, Frank Kaminsky, Glenn Robinson III and Chimezie Metu.
They’ll have at least two rookies on the regular roster in Tyrese Haliburton and Robert Woodard and two second-year players in Justin James and DaQuan Jeffries. Not only will this group need to know the playbook and be ready to fill in, but they should also probably be ready to play regular minutes.
“The biggest thing with us this year is that our young guys are going to play,” Barnes said. “So it’s not a matter of saying, ‘Hey, when the moment arises, be prepared for x, y and z.’ The moment is going to be here. It’s going to be here in 10 days, in 12 days, whatever it may be.”
The speed of play might help disguise some of the Kings’ issues with inexperience. They need the young group to have a short memory and play through their mistakes on the court.
“You have to learn on the fly, don’t be too hard on yourself, try to stay even-keeled,” Barnes said. “There’s going to be ups and downs, but as a young player, you have the opportunity to be thrown into the fire and you’ve just got to embrace that.”
It should be an interesting season in Sacramento. The Kings still have a core of Barnes, Fox, Cory Joseph, Buddy Hield, Marvin Bagley, Nemanja Bjelica and Richaun Holmes who know the system in place. But there is only so much that group can do as coaches on the floor to support their teammates during live action.
The Kings aren’t the only team that will have to rely on young players this season and every team in the NBA has to be concerned about the coronavirus pandemic and what impact it might have on its roster and the schedule as a whole.
There is a good chance that the Kings take a few lumps this season as they reboot their roster. What is key is that they show growth and find their identity.