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Can the Kings play faster? De'Aaron Fox wants to channel Chris Paul and demand it

De'Aaron Fox looking forward to playing in California Classic with new teammates

Sacramento Kings guard De'Aaron Fox said he's looking forward to playing with his new teammates during the California Classic being played at the Golden 1 Center.
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Sacramento Kings guard De'Aaron Fox said he's looking forward to playing with his new teammates during the California Classic being played at the Golden 1 Center.

De'Aaron Fox has been consumed by studying one of the best point guards in NBA history.

A young Chris Paul was at the center of an hourlong conversation between Fox and team leadership. Paul's early career also has been the subject of a lot of film study. It's all in an effort to make the Kings' point guard a better leader and player in his second year.

Fox is playing in next week's California Classic summer league in Sacramento, giving him three games to begin putting his imprint on the Kings' style of play. He said there are no plans for him to play in Las Vegas for the remainder of summer league.

The Kings failed to reach a consistently fast pace of play in Fox's rookie season, when they had one of the worst offenses in the NBA across several categories.

Fox was drafted fifth overall in 2017 to engineer a high-octane offense, one the Kings hope to show this coming season. They believe they have enough athletes to run more, but it will still be up to Fox to force the issue.

"It's really demanding it," Fox said after Friday morning's practice.

Aside from Fox, the Kings will use four other players in summer league who are expected on the regular-season roster: second-year players Justin Jackson and Frank Mason III and rookies Harry Giles and Marvin Bagley III.

Fox showed flashes of brilliant play last season, but the Kings want to see continued growth as a leader, too.

"One time I talked to Bobby (Jackson) and Peja (Stojakovic) for like an hour, and they played with a young Chris Paul (in Oklahoma City/New Orleans) and that's a guy that I really watched a lot, really watched a lot of film on," Fox said. "And even at a young age, in his rookie year, he demanded (his teammates play fast). He doesn't just run by himself and nobody runs with him; he forces his teammates to do it with him, and that's one thing I admire about him, he's a true leader."

Paul continues to play that way with the Houston Rockets, Fox said.

"He gets the ball and, he's yelling at people, telling guys to come with him," he said. "It's that. It's being vocal, yelling on the court. We'll definitely see it."

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The Kings finished as the NBA's worst-scoring team last season (98.8 points per game) and one of two teams to fail to average at least 100 points. They were 22nd in field-goal percentage (45.0 percent), 25th in assists (21.6 per game) and last in pace (97.06). When the game slowed down, the Kings struggled to score, so keeping the game at an optimal pace in critical for improvement next season.

That style does not fit Fox and most of his teammates. Summer league is where Fox can work to change that.

"Even for the guys who aren't playing, just showing them we're changing how we're playing a little bit, opening it up," Fox said. "And I think it'll be a much faster pace than we played last year."

That burden isn't only on Fox. It will require buy-in from everyone on the court.

Returning players such as Willie Cauley-Stein, Buddy Hield and Bogdan Bogdanovic are more likely to flourish in a more open game. Giles and Bagley are also suited to run.

"De'Aaron is one of the fastest guards in the world ... that means that his teammates have to understand that, be in good shape and they have to be athletic and flexible enough to run with him," said Kings summer league coach Larry Lewis. "It's very hard to defend an offense or a sequence where the ball is getting up the court so fast, before the first pass is even made and your defense isn't set. So now your defensive structure or scheme could possibly be irrelevant because he's getting the ball up the court."

Fox believes he is better equipped to push the tempo for the Kings than a year ago. It's not just that he won't come off the bench to start the season, as he did as a rookie behind George Hill; Fox is more comfortable speaking up.

Fox believes if he is a more vocal leader while setting an example on the court the message "will definitely trickle down."

"I was 19 for half of last season so I didn't feel comfortable doing it," Fox said. "But toward the end of the season I started doing it a little bit. Just trying to be a leader and something I know I'm going have to do."

California Classic

What: Summer league tournament at Golden 1 Center

Kings' schedule, TV: Monday vs. Lakers, 8 p.m., NBCSN-CA, NBA; Tuesday vs. Warriors, 8 p.m., NBA; Thursday vs. Heat, 2 p.m., NBA

Kings' roster highlights: Marvin Bagley III, De'Aaron Fox, Harry Giles, Justin Jackson, Frank Mason III

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