by Matt George – Sports 1140 KHTK Reporter
The Sacramento Kings are nine days away from tipping off the 2018-19 NBA regular season against the Utah Jazz. They have played three preseason games, four after tonight’s home game against Maccabi Haifa. Here are some of the biggest takeaways from Sacramento’s dress rehearsals.
Pushing the Tempo is the Focus
The Kings were at the bottom of the NBA last year in pace, despite having one of the youngest rosters and a rookie point guard who is known for his speed. All summer, players and coaches have been saying the right things, that this team is looking to push the tempo, running constantly, and will be making that a priority for next season. Through three preseason games, Sacramento is averaging 12.6 fast break points a game. That would have been good for 12th in the NBA last season.
De’Aaron Fox is Ready to Lead
De’Aaron Fox told reporters that he wants to be the team leader and push the tempo this summer. So far he has delivered. Not only that, his three-point shot looks significantly better. It’s not just his shooting stroke, which always looked clean, it’s his confidence to hit the open three when defenders sag off him. Fox is shooting 46% from 3pt range, a massive improvement over his 30% last season. Hopefully that shooting success will carry over into the regular season.
De’Aaron Fox is going to have a breakout season!
18 PTS (7-9 FG, 4-6 3PT), 5 AST, 3 STL in just 18 MINS! 15 PTS in the 1st quarter! pic.twitter.com/IByfvAtXtN
— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) October 5, 2018
The Small Forward Gap is Just As Big
One of the large holes that the Sacramento Kings had heading into the offseason wasn’t really addressed. The Kings have been in search of a consistent small forward since Rudy Gay. Bogdan Bogdanoivc got some run at the position late last season, and seems to be the guy the Kings want to throw out there as their starter, but his recent surgery has him on the shelf until November. Justin Jackson, the only true small forward on the team, has been virtually (and statistically) non-existent all preseason. The best case scenario for the second year shooter, is as a volume scorer off the bench.
Where Is the Defense?
In order to be an effective transition offensive team, you have to get stops on defense. So far in the preseason, the Kings have struggled there. Opponents are averaging a total of 118 point a game against Sacramento in these first three contests. The 122-94 loss to the Golden State Warriors on Friday night inflated those statistics a pinch, but as Sactown Royaly’s Tim Maxwell pointed out, opponent shooting percentage has been a big problem.
Through 3 preseason games, the Kings are allowing opponents to shoot 49.8% from the floor. That’s worst in the NBA and also worse than the Adelaide 36ers, the Melbourne United, the New Zealand Breakers, and the Sydney Kings.
— SactownBabyGiraffe (@TimMaxwell22) October 8, 2018
The Kings are a 3-Point Shooting Team
Sacramento was one of the most efficient three-point shooting teams last season. Unfortunately, they didn’t take advantage of that statistic, seeing as how they took the fewest threes a game out of every team. This preseason that seems to have been fixed. The Kings have taken 80 3-pointers through three games, making 35 of them (43%). Sacramento is looking to space the floor, take the quick three when available, and allow their perimeter offense to open up the paint.