The Sacramento Kings selected De’Aaron Fox with the fifth pick in the 2017 NBA Draft with the vision of him becoming the team’s franchise point guard. Roughly a year and a half removed from that night, he has become perhaps the team’s brightest young player.
Fox was viewed as a prospect who would need polishing that would likely take a couple years to achieve, which is not necessarily wrong. However, his development has proven to be ahead of schedule in just his second NBA season.
As a rookie, Fox started in 60 out of the 73 games he played in, averaging 11.6 PPG on 41.2% shooting, per Basketball Reference. He also contributed 4.4 assists, 2.8 rebounds, and 1.0 steals per game, respectively. The most alarming statistic was his 30.7% shooting from three-point range, which was something that NBA executives knew that Fox needed to work on. Overall, he had a decent year in terms of statistics, but his ability to run the Sacramento offense needed some work.
However, this season has been a different story. De’Aaron Fox has improved in nearly every category; his 18.2 PPG is second on the team, trailing only Buddy Hield (19.9). The most impressive aspect of his growing offensive repertoire is the drastic increase in scoring efficiency. Opposed to last year, Fox has been shooting 48.1% from the field (39.8% from deep).
There is no doubt that Sacramento’s 115.3 PPG, which ranks fourth in the NBA, is partially due to Fox’s ability to score more efficiently and run the offense better, especially when operating in pick-and-rolls.
His 3.5 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game, respectively, are not huge jumps, but his role on the team does not create a need for those areas to witness a large improvement quickly.
With that being said, one facet of his game that has drastically improved is ball movement and getting his teammates the ball in good scoring zones. Fox currently averages a team-high 7.4 assists per game. His ability to run the Sacramento Kings’ offense and move without the ball have taken Sacramento to a new level in terms of scoring.
It’s one thing to be able to distribute the ball, but it’s another to be able to do so efficiently. Last season Fox ranked 10th on the team with an 11.3 PER; much to the team’s delight, he now ranks first on the roster with a 19.3 PER, per NBA.com.
With his 6-foot-3 frame and cat-like quickness, De’Aaron Fox is quickly becoming one of the toughest matchups for opposing guards. In transition, he is able to get out and fly down the court, and playing into his much-improved assist totals, he’s been rocketing the ball down the floor to get his teammates easy opportunities, even after opposing made baskets.
The continual polishing of his half court offensive abilities have linked Fox to one of the league’s most promising young backcourts alongside Buddy Hield. The improving three-point shot has allowed Fox to penetrate the lanes more effectively, too.
Not only is he a challenge to stay in front of, but he’s also a challenge to get around defensively. His 6-foot-6 wingspan, exceptional athleticism, and lateral quickness is quickly making him a candidate for one of the NBA’s best future two-way guards.
Overall, the Sacramento Kings are currently 16-15 and although they have shown progress, they are still not a legitimate threat in the stacked Western Conference. It is evident that De’Aaron Fox has adapted to the pace of the NBA and his growing offensive arsenal has been put on display all season long, though. He will need to continue to improve his shooting from deep and scoring efficiency as a whole.
The second-year man out of Kentucky has been turning heads through the team’s first 31 games and has even drawn some All-Star consideration. Drawing comparisons to the likes of superstar Russell Westbrook, Fox is primed to be one of the league’s future great two-way guards. He just has to keep building on what he’s doing this year, and there’s no reason he won’t do just that.