The Kings are young, athletic and ready to get out and run. Through six games, including four on the road, they are a surprising 3-3 and turning heads around the league. It’s a surprising development to almost everyone, but following Friday’s victory over the dysfunctional Washington Wizards, point guard De’Aaron Fox shrugged off the suggestion.
“Surprise outside of this locker room,” Fox said when asked about the team’s recent success. “We feel like last year, we didn’t have an identity and we didn’t know what we really wanted to do. I think this year we know we want to play fast.”
Fox is correct about the 2017-18 Kings team. They brought in the former Kentucky star to push the tempo, but then added veterans George Hill, Zach Randolph and Vince Carter via free agency. Even if the team wanted to play with pace, it was nearly impossible with the roster they were handed.
So far this season, the Kings are track stars. It’s a small sample size, but as of this writing the team is second in the league in pace and tied for sixth in points scored per game at 117 points per game. Fox is the ring leader, but he has plenty of players flanking him up and down the court.
“Coach [Dave Joerger] is demanding it, you see him yelling and screaming,” Fox continued “If the ball goes through the basket, I’m yelling at guys to hurry up and take the ball out. We know what we’re trying to do and I think we’re executing it pretty well.”
The defensive numbers are starting to improve slightly, but Sacramento is still giving up 120.3 points an night, which ranks 26th in the league. Their defensive rating of 111.8 is 21st in the league per NBA.com, again, showing improvement over the first three games of the campaign.
After a slow start to season on the glass, the Kings have strung together consecutive 50-plus rebound games for the first time since the 2016-17 season. After ripping down 53 boards against the Wizards, Sacramento now ranks third in the league in rebounding at 45.2 per game.
The sample size is miniscule by any standard of NBA measurement, but the Kings appear to have a vision for their team and so far, they are executing that plan.
Fox isn’t surprised, but it’s pretty clear the Thunder, Grizzlies and Wizards had no idea what was coming when the ball tipped off.
The Kings take their show on the road beginning Monday in Miami. They’ll hit Orlando, Atlanta and Milwaukee on the trip before returning home to face the Toronto Raptors at Golden 1 Center on Nov. 7.