At the start of every season, I like to predict which players are about to have their breakout season. There were a few on my radar for this season: Khris Middleton, Myles Turner, Jamal Murray.
You know who should’ve been on my list? F*cking De’Aaron Fox.
Back in November, I wrote about 5 surprises in the NBA, and while I did mention that the Kings are kinda good, I had no idea just how good Fox would be.
From Sub-Par Rookie To Superstar
The main reason I wasn’t expecting too much from Fox this season was because of his performance as a rookie last year. He was the number 5 pick overall, so expectations were high. It was clear that Fox had an incredible raw talent that just needed a little bit (okay, a lot) of finessing.
His movements seemed confused, clunky and unintentional. He rarely got to the line, which is something a fast and crafty point guard should be able to do with frequency. He averaged 11.6 points, 4.4 assists, and 1 steal on 41.2% shooting (30.7% from 3) in 27.8 minutes of play.
Keys to Success
This season, however, Fox is averaging 17.2 points, 7.2 assists, and 1.7 steals on 46.1% shooting (36.9 from 3) in 31.4 minutes of play. He’s improved significantly in such a short amount of time.
During the 2017-2018 season (Fox’s rookie year), the Kings played at such a slow pace, something we haven’t been seeing this year. Fox is known for his quickness – seriously, he’s really fast. It’s clear that the coaching staff has realized the importance of his speed to the team. In fact, the Kings are playing at the second-fastest pace in the league this season after playing at the slowest last season.
Playing at a faster pace allows the Kings to score more points in transition, with Fox scoring many of them. Sacramento is first in the league in transition points this season (Golden State is second). A faster pace also means more possessions per game which means, yep – the potential for more points.
I feel like I’m playing stronger, getting to my spot a lot easier and that’s what the offseason is for – to better yourself. – De’Aaron Fox
Fox worked on putting on some muscle in the off-season, which is clearly working for him. He’s playing a much more physical game this season – finding ways to get around hard screens and attacking the basket more. Last season, Fox averaged 2.7 free throw attempts per game and this season he’s attempting 5.2. While his free throw percentage isn’t up, this increase in attempts means that he’s playing more aggressively and feels more confident around the basket.
He’s also putting in a lot more effort defensively. His increased strength plus his lighting quickness results in defense, baby.
Yeah, his free throw percentage may not be up, but his field goal percentage certainly is. Last season, Fox was shooting 41.2% from the field and this season he’s shooting 46.1%. This is made even more impressive when you consider the fact that he’s taking 2.5 more shots per game.
His 3-point percentage is up this year as well, from 30.7% last season to 36.9%. Again, he’s attempting more shots than last year from beyond the arc.
Ya can’t deny the numbers, people.
Teamwork makes the dream work, it’s true. The Kings are playing much more cohesively as a team, which allows Fox to be more successful in, well, pretty much everything.
Fox is having a wonderful season, but his teammate Buddy Hield is as well. Hield is averaging 20.7 points per game this
The increase in his shooting percentage definitely has something to do with his teammates as well. Last season, it seemed like Fox was scrambling with the ball and taking more difficult shots. This season, however, he’s able to get into position for a high-percentage shot, and score off passes from his teammates more frequently.
Fox has made huge improvements in his very short NBA career so far, and I’m so excited to see where he’s going to go from here.
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