Sacramento Kings point guard De’Aaron Fox was the fifth overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft. He entered the league with high expectations all around him and what kind of player he could become.
His entire career, Fox has been averaging double-digit scoring numbers and over 20 points ever since the 2019-20 season. His best point average so far was 25.2 points in the 2020-21 season. Despite those solid numbers, Fox has never been an All-Star. Some consider him a snub from the 2021 All-Star game, thinking that he deserved the honor. This season, however, the 25-year-old might finally make his first All-Star appearance. He is certainly putting up the numbers for it.
In a season that is still young, Fox is currently averaging 24.6 points, 5 rebounds, 6.3 assists and 1.3 steals while shooting the highest field goal and free throw percentages of his career. Especially the 81 percent from the free throw line, are huge for a player who drives and attacks the rim as much as Fox does. He is actually leading the league in field goal percentage on drives with 65 percent right now, besting All-Stars Luka Doncic and Donovan Mitchell.
Fox already has four games with at least thirty points and two double-doubles in which he recorded more than ten assists under his belt for this season. Despite good numbers from Fox, Sacramento had a slow start to the season with four straight losses, but led by Fox, they also had some big wins recently. They beat the reigning champions and a strong Cleveland Cavaliers team, for example, before completely obliterating the Brooklyn Nets 153-121.
Since the Kings traded away rising star Tyrese Halliburton last season, it is now clear that Fox is the face of the franchise, and he seems up to the challenge. Fox works much better now that he is once again the only high-usage point guard in the lineup, and he is very productive paired with new center Domantas Sabonis. Fox loves pick-and-roll action, and Sabonis is the best partner he has ever had for that. Sabonis’s strong screens open up driving lanes for Fox and create midrange shots.
Fox is also thriving around other new additions to the roster, such as rookie and fellow lottery-pick Keegan Murray. The Kings added lots of shooting and spacing around Fox, which is extremely important to maximize his talents. As one of the quickest players in the league, Fox likes to attack the rim, and as mentioned before, he is great at it, too. To do that, he needs room, and thus struggled with a lack of spacing last season. Now, he has players around him who can open up the floor for his attacks. As they grow more comfortable with each other, his assists might also go up due to plenty of opportunities to hit open three-point shooters with kick-out passes.
Moreover, Fox also leads the league in clutch points this season. He is shooting 62 percent from three when there are less than four seconds left on the shot clock. That was especially evident when he led the Kings back from a 20-point deficit against the Orlando Magic in an overtime win. Fox scored 37 points and hit a buzzer-beating game-winner from half-court.
Everybody knew that Fox could score, though, which is why his defensive improvement is the biggest step he has taken this season. Under new head coach Mike Brown, who was in charge of the Warriors’ defense before coming to Sacramento, Fox is showing a new defensive intensity. So far, he had at least one steal in all but three games. Overall, he has stolen the ball a total of 15 times over twelve games.
Fox worked hard in the off-season to get to this level of play. He even had assistant coach Luke Loucks accompany him on his honeymoon to Venice to prepare for this season. As the season continues, his numbers will certainly turn into career-highs all across the board as he makes his All-Star case.
A selection would be well-deserved for Fox, considering all that he is doing for the Kings this season. It would also be the team’s first All-Star selection since DeMarcus Cousins in the 2016-17 season.