Through 33 games last season, the Sacramento Kings sat with an 18-15 record. A year later, they sit with a 12-21 record, and falling fast from a Western Conference playoff spot.
For a team that was supposed to take the next step following the franchise’s first promising year in over a decade, they have been underwhelming to say the least.
Injury has played a part with Bagley and Fox missing most of the year, but even since Fox’s return, the team has yet to win a game.
So what gives?
The Kings were seen as a young, fast team last season as the league oohed and awed over their quick style of play.
They were third in the NBA last year, posting a PACE (Pace Factor: possessions per game) of 103.88. This year, we have witnessed a huge drop from a team that is currently last with a 97.60 PACE, making them the slowest team in the league.
For a team that thrived last season with a quick style of play, it is peculiar that Walton would slow the team down so much, and it is out of the ordinary, too. Last season, Walton’s Lakers squad posted a pace factor of 103.60, and the year before that, it was a 106.0. Not to mention Walton’s history with some of those fast Warriors teams that posted a 99.28, and a 100.24 PACE in the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons respectively.
One might think that the team’s PACE would only rev up with the return of arguably the fastest player in the league, De’Aaron Fox. But since Fox’s return, the Kings are still the second slowest team in the NBA over the last seven games.
This might be the issue giving Sacramento their problems.
With their slower pace of play this season, the Kings’ offensive rating has dropped 2.7 points compared to last year. Even though their defensive rating has improved, it has only done so by 1.3 points.
Yes, defense wins championships, but the Kings’ offense has been hit the hardest by their slow pace factor, and it has shown in the win/loss column.
If Sacramento wants to get back on track, then they need to pick up the PACE.
They played so well last year as a quick team and have done terrible this season as a traditional half court team.
Walton needs to give Fox and company the green light to speed up the pace, and start outrunning their opponents like they did so well under Dave Joerger last year.