SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Sacramento Kings coach Dave Joerger wants his team to run more this season and plans to give speedy point guard De’Aaron Fox all the room he needs.
Fox was one of the fastest players in the NBA last year as a rookie, but the Kings offense was uneven most of the season and frequently bogged down in the half-court.
With an influx of young, quick players added to an already youthful roster, the hope is that Fox can get Sacramento out and running and, possibly, back into the postseason.
“The best thing you can do for him is play fast and give him as much room as possible,” Joerger said Monday at the Kings practice facility during media day. “To play small and try to do that is best for De’Aaron. He’s our franchise guy. I think he is and I think everybody kind of agrees on that.”
The fifth overall pick in 2017, Fox started 60 games and averaged 11.6 points with 4.4 assists, but shot only 41.2 percent while struggling with an inconsistent mid-range jumpshot.
The Kings were 20th in the NBA with 10.4 fastbreak points. Those are numbers Fox hopes to improve in his second season.
“That’s the way I’ve always played,” Fox said. “I’ve always played for a team that gets up and down, high school college, AAU, all of that. That’s what (Joerger is) emphasizing this year. I’m excited to see what happens.”
The Kings drafted Fox with the first of their three first-round picks a year ago, but used him sparingly early while George Hill ran the point. Hill was eventually dealt to the Cleveland Cavaliers as part of a multi-team trade.
Fox flourished at times, but Sacramento struggled with its half-court offense and finished 27-55.
Correcting the problems the Kings had there, as well as getting better in the fastbreak, are Fox’s main goals.
“When we did do it, it was pretty effective but you don’t see too many young teams really executing at a veteran level in the halfcourt,” Fox said. “That’s something that I definitely need to work on as a point guard myself and us as a team.”
Sacramento used the second overall pick this year on 6-foot-11-inch power forward Marvin Bagley III of Duke. Harry Giles, the 20th overall selection in 2017 who sat out his entire rookie season injured, is also back to add speed and size to the frontcourt.
They also signed 6-10, 240-pound forward Nemanja Bjelica to play the stretch-four when the Kings want to go small.
“Last year, our fastest lineup was playing Justin Jackson at power forward next to Bogdanovich and Buddy Hield,” Joerger said. “That group analytically would have been the fastest-paced team in the NBA. That serves to De’Aaron’s strength.”
Better rebounding will also help, Joerger said.
“It’s not easy to run when you’re always taking the ball out of bounds after a made shot,” Joerger said. “We have to try, try to get some stops. It’s fundamentals, fundamentals, fundamentals. It’s a commitment. DeAaron’s going to have to push it, but it takes all five guys.”
Fox will be without his backcourt mate, Bogdan Bogdanovic, for the start of training camp. Bogdanovic underwent minor surgery Monday on his left knee after having a similar procedure done in April to repair a slight tear of the medial meniscus. No timetable has been given for his return.
“It puts us behind a little bit,” Joerger said. “I was hoping to play he and Buddy Hield, either of them or play them together, at backup point guard. I wanted to see how that looks and put more scoring, shooting on the floor. So that will be a little behind.”