De’Aaron Fox was great in his season at Kentucky. He, along with Malik Monk, formed a dynamic backcourt for Kentucky that took them to the Elite 8. Fox endeared himself to Kentucky fans with his reaction to their loss in that game.
Fox declared for the NBA Draft and like most Kentucky guys he was picked quite high. Fox was the 5th overall pick to the Sacramento Kings. He would be joining up with former Cats Willie Cauley-Stein and Skal Labissiere to become the point guard of the future.
The problem with the NBA Draft is that bad teams are rewarded with high draft picks. These days, the majority of the high picks are 19 years old. Franchises are drafting 19-year-old kids to lead their teams, and in many cases it does not go well.
There have been 10 players (not including Fox) drafted from Kentucky in the top 10 since 2010, of those players, only Willie Cauley-Stein and Jamal Murray were on teams that won more than 30 games. My point is that high draft picks usually join bad teams and in De’Aaron Fox’s case he joined a really bad team.
The Kings are currently 4-11 putting them as the 4th worst team in the league by record. They have lost a game by 17, two games by 18, three games by 27, and a game on Wednesday by 46 points to the third worst team in the league. To put that in perspective, Kentucky’s worst loss during Fox’s season was by 6 points. Fox is a team-first guy and coming to a team where you know that you are going to lose can't be easy for him. Coupled with the losses is the fact that Fox has really struggled 15 games into his rookie season.
Fox is currently shooting 39.8% from the field including 19% from three. However, Fox has only taken 21 three-pointers so far this season. If you include just his two-point shots, that bumps up his field goal percentage to a more respectable, but still not great 42.8%. Fox’s strength is attacking the paint and dishing it to teammates. He is doing that, but he is having a tough time catching up with the speed of the NBA. Fox is one of the fastest guards in the league, but there is still an adjustment period for rookies.
In this first clip, Fox tries to make an extremely difficult pass that his teammate is not even looking for because he knows there is no chance. The second clip, Fox runs a pick and roll with Cauley-Stein and tries to force the ball back to him when Andre Drummond is able to get an easy steal.
Fox has also tried to be aggressive and sometimes he is trying to do too much when he has better plays available. In this clip, you can see Fox on the break with two open shooters on the wing, but he opts for the drive into two defenders and a third on his hip. While it is unfair to pick three random clips to show that Fox is struggling, the numbers back up these plays. Fox is making questionable decisions in his passes and in his shot selection.
Despite these issues, Fox is taking care of the ball. He is only averaging two turnovers per game, which is better than Lonzo Ball and Dennis Smith Jr. at the moment. Fox has also shown some flashes of amazing play during his 15 games. He had a really good game for the Kings in a surprising win over the Thunder. He also hit a game-winner against the 76ers.
The game-winning shot is an interesting one when you analyze the spot of the jump shot and the characteristics of Fox including that he played at Kentucky, is a taller point guard, and is a great athlete. John Wall has become a great point guard, and he does not have the most reliable three point shot. However, Wall has become deadly from the elbows. Opponents have to respect the drive, so they are backing up as he advances and then he raises up and hits the shot. Fox has that same skill set, but it is going to take time.
The red dots show above average percentages from those locations. Looking at Wall’s chart you can see the elbows are red. Now take a look at Fox’s chart.
Fox is young, but you can already see that he has the potential to be the kind of offensive threat that John Wall has become. It is going to take time. Fox may have to endure some losing, but there is no doubt that he will be part of the group that turns it around for Sacramento.
Stats courtesy of basketball-reference.com