It looks like the NBA may finally be seeing the light on De’Aaron Fox, at least in comparison to Lonzo Ball.
The latter has been widely viewed as the better prospect, but the former is who NBA teams are starting to warm up to. According to ESPN’s Chad Ford, Fox has passed Ball on some NBA teams' big boards. Ford added that Fox could end up going as high as No. 2 overall behind Markelle Fultz in this year’s draft.
That’s no surprise to Fox.
"I feel like I'm the best," Fox said at the NBA Draft Combine last week. "If they're drafted above me, I'm cool with it. You have to play basketball at the end of the day."
Fox averaged 16.7 points, four rebounds and 4.6 assists per game this season while leading the Cats to a 32-6 record, an SEC Championship and an Elite Eight berth. He really came on strong later in the year, averaging 22 points in the SEC Tournament, then scored a career-high 39 points in the Sweet 16 vs UCLA.
It was that night that many began to see Fox just might be the better NBA prospect than Ball, who has been projected as the second-best prospect in this draft by most draft services.
"He's the consensus No. 1 pick, he could be the No. 1 pick," Fox said of Ball at the combine. "I'm just extremely competitive. That's what I tell everybody. It didn't matter if it was him or one of the other top picks. I'm competitive, and I came out hot.”
If Fox is in fact passing Ball on NBA big boards, there’s no telling how high the former Wildcat could go. For now, it’s looking like the Knicks may be the team to watch for in the Fox sweepstakes. They badly need a point guard with Derrick Rose about to leave in free agency, so perhaps they’ll replace a former Calipari point guard with another.
And because he played under the bright lights of Kentucky Basketball, Fox is ready for the pressure that comes from playing in New York.
“I feel like I’d handle it great,” Fox told Adam Zagoria. “I’m from Houston, I’ve been around big cities. Lexington is not that big of a city but the way that their fan base is makes it seem like it’s a big city and a big market. I know those fans are demanding and they’re going to let you know how they feel, but so are Kentucky fans.”
The most recent DraftExpress mock draft actually has fellow UK guard Malik Monk landing with the Knicks at No. 7, while Fox goes No. 5 to the Magic. However, this is before the draft lottery takes place on Tuesday, so the draft order for the first 14 picks still needs to be solidified.
Still, it sounds like Fox should go pretty high regardless of how the order shapes out.