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Thunder vs. Kings won't be the foot race it was last season

The Kings haven’t had Marvin Bagley available since the season opener. De’Aaron Fox has been sidelined by a left ankle sprain.

Bagley is expected to return Wednesday and was listed as “probable” on the Kings injury report as of Wednesday afternoon.

But between adjusting to the losses of Fox and Bagley, and going through a coaching change from Dave Joerger to Luke Walton, Sacramento isn’t the same pace-pushing team it was last season. In fact, entering play Wednesday, the Kings ranked last in the NBA in pace (97.98 possessions per 48 minutes), per NBA.com.

Compare that to last season, when Sacramento finished ranked No. 2 in pace (105.19), behind only Atlanta, another team led by a young point guard.

The Thunder style has also slowed since trading Russell Westbrook to Houston this summer. It went from ranking No. 5 in fast break points last season (18.2 per game) to last in the league (8.7) this year.

OKC has turned its offensive focus to ball movement, and with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander seen as the point guard of the future, the Thunder likely won’t be among the league’s fastest teams anytime soon.

Gilgeous-Alexander knows he’s not particularly quick from end to end. He shines with his change of speeds.

“I think he understands angles, and he can go from really slow speeds or no speed to a really good first step,” Thunder coach Billy Donovan said. “And I think when he gets angles, he’s really long and he’s got obviously a lot of English and things that he can do touch-wise around the basket, but it’s more his ability to change direction and read angles.”

Tip-off between the Kings and Thunder is scheduled for 9 p.m. Wednesday.

Related Photos
Oklahoma City's Russell Westbrook (0) goes to the basket beside Sacramento's De'Aaron Fox (5) during an NBA basketball game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Sacramento Kings at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Saturday, Feb. 23, 2019. Sacramento won 119-116. Photo by Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman

Oklahoma City's Russell Westbrook (0) goes to the basket beside Sacramento's De'Aaron Fox (5) during an NBA basketball game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Sacramento Kings at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Saturday, Feb. 23, 2019. Sacramento won 119-116. Photo by Bryan...

<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-1d4f49e65d2888b62c6d7cf97c8dff5e.jpg" alt="Photo - Oklahoma City's Russell Westbrook (0) goes to the basket beside Sacramento's De'Aaron Fox (5) during an NBA basketball game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Sacramento Kings at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Saturday, Feb. 23, 2019. Sacramento won 119-116. Photo by Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman" title="Oklahoma City's Russell Westbrook (0) goes to the basket beside Sacramento's De'Aaron Fox (5) during an NBA basketball game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Sacramento Kings at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Saturday, Feb. 23, 2019. Sacramento won 119-116. Photo by Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman"><figcaption>Oklahoma City's Russell Westbrook (0) goes to the basket beside Sacramento's De'Aaron Fox (5) during an NBA basketball game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Sacramento Kings at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Saturday, Feb. 23, 2019. Sacramento won 119-116. Photo by Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman</figcaption></figure>
Maddie Lee

Maddie Lee followed an NBA team from Seattle to Oklahoma City, she just took a 10-year detour in between. Lee joined the Oklahoman in October 2018 as a Thunder beat writer, fresh off a stint in Oxford, Miss., where she covered Ole Miss for the... Read more ›

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