The Sacramento Kings have returned to their roots of fast-paced basketball, and it’s likely no coincidence they have hit the ground running in 2020.
After being the slowest team in the league during the 2019 segment of this season and ending the decade on an eight game skid, Walton and the squad have really turned things around as they sit atop the league in PACE (Pace Factor: possessions per game) so far in January.
Since the team switched to a quicker style of play, the Kings have gone 3-1 in that span, with their only loss coming in the closing seconds to the Pelicans.
Much like we saw last year, Sacramento is thriving with the up-tempo play and are looking to claw their way back into playoff contention, only two games out of the eighth seed.
It seems that the Kings’ starting backcourt is benefitting most off the change in pace, just as they did during the 2018/2019 campaign.[table “18” not found /]
Buddy Hield has not had the season most expected out of him after signing a big contract extension prior to the beginning of the season.
He has shot poorly thus far while taking a lot of bad looks.
His specialty, the three ball, has not been falling, and after shooting close to 42% from deep in his first three seasons, that number has shot down to 37% this year.
But since the Kings started playing faster four games ago, it seems that the Buddy we grew to know and love is ascending out of his shooting slump.
Although he is still only shooting around 41% from the field, he has been knocking down long balls at a 51.5% clip while taking better looks.
For Fox, up-tempo play is exactly where the third year guard is most comfortable.
He is scoring over five more points per game compared to the previous three slower-paced months, and he is getting to the line at a much higher rate.
Walton should have been charged with a crime for ever trying to slow this speedster down.
Sacramento has reaped the rewards since changing the pace and their starting backcourt looks stronger than ever.
The Kings are still close in the playoff hunt, so it is imperative to stick to their regained style of play if they want to continue to succeed and claim a postseason spot.