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De’Aaron Fox Is Primed For A Big Third Year

(Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)

The third-year guard will look to capitalize on an incredible sophomore season

After being drafted with the fifth-overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, expectations were high for De’Aaron Fox.

The speedy guard had just finished up his collegiate career with the Kentucky Wildcats, garnering First-team All-SEC honors while leading the ‘Cats to an Elite Eight appearance. Fox was projected as a top-five pick in the draft, with some analysts projecting him to go as high as second-overall to the Los Angeles Lakers. Luckily for Sacramento, Fox fell to pick number five and the Kings had their guy.

In his lone season with Kentucky, Fox averaged 16.7 points, 4.0 rebounds and 4.6 assists per game. Many scouts and executives around the NBA questioned if the rookie guard could develop a jump shot, as his 24-percent average from beyond the three-point arc stirred up some concerns. Shortly after drafting Fox, Sacramento signed veteran guard George Hill to a three-year deal worth $57 million. Over nine seasons in the league, Hill had shot 38-percent from three-point land.

This move puzzled Kings fans, seeing that the consensus was that De’Aaron Fox was going to be handed the keys to the Sacramento offense.

On opening night of the 2017-18 season, Fox found himself on the bench instead of the starting lineup. Although he didn’t start, the rookie showed flashes of his potential as he finished with 14 points, four rebounds and five assists in 23 minutes of action. Fox averaged 11.1 points, 3.1 rebounds and 4.9 assists over his first 14 games to propel him into the starting lineup.

Hill was eventually traded to Cleveland in February, clearing the way for Fox to be the set starting point guard for the rest of the season.

Fox had an up-and-down rookie campaign, finished with averages of 11.6 points, 2.8 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game. Like in college, shooting appeared to be the main area of concern for the 20-year-old, finishing the season with a 41-percent average from the field and a 30-percent average from the three-point arc.

Year Two

De’Aaron Fox made a series of adjustments in his first NBA offseason, and they really showed in his second season.

The speedster guard burst out of the gates to start the 2018-19 season, averaging 19.0 points, 4.6 rebounds and 7.8 assists per game on 50-percent shooting over Sacramento’s first nine contests. The Kings were off to a 6-3 start that included a five-game winning streak, giving Sacramento their best start to a season in over 14 years.

On November 1, 2018 Fox earned his first-career triple-double in Atlanta. It was a monster triple-double, as the second-year guard scored 31 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and dished 15 assists.

Sacramento was in the playoff hunt and Fox was earning recognition from around the league with his improved play. In February, Fox was selected to the Rising Stars Game for the second-consecutive season, scoring two points and racking up a game-high 16 assists. He also participated in the Skills Challenge during All-Star Weekend, although he was eliminated in the first round by Trae Young.

Fox and the Kings finished the season with a 39-43 record, their best record since 2005-06.

Among league leaders, the 21-year-old finished fourth in the league in assists with 590, eighth in assists per game with 7.7 and ninth in the league in steals per game with 1.6 swipes per game.

In 2017-18, Fox only topped the 20-point mark five times during his rookie season. In his second season, he scored 20-points or more 27 times, including scoring more than 30 points on three occasions. De’Aaron finished his incredible sophomore season with averages of 17.3 points, 3.8 rebounds and 7.3 assists per game. The biggest problem during Fox’s rookie season was his ability to knock down shots, and he showed his improvements in year number two. His field goal percentage improved from 41-percent to 45-percent, while his three-point shooting improved from 30-percent to 37-percent.

For his efforts, Fox was nominated for the Most Improved Player Award, finishing third behind Pascal Siakam and D’Angelo Russell.

The Future

In his second season of NBA action, De’Aaron Fox improved in nearly every single statistical category. In year three, what else can we expect from the stud point guard? Buddy Hield, Harrison Barnes and Marvin Bagley III will supply Fox with a variety of offensive weapons this season. Along with the explosive skill sets of Bagley and Harry Giles III, Fox has a several lob-options with Dewayne Dedmon and Richaun Holmes now on the roster.

Personal numbers and accolades aside, one goal stands tall above the rest for the third-year guard. After winning 39 games and placing ninth in the Western Conference last season, it’s time to take the next step.

The goal for De’Aaron Fox and the Sacramento Kings is simple for this season.

Playoffs.