Bogdan Bogdanovic remembers what kind of player he was when he was the same age as De’Aaron Fox.
He couldn’t shoot nearly as well as he can now because he had a completely different motion to his shot. (He’s currently 10th among qualified NBA shooting guards from the field at 45 percent, and 8th in the league among qualified shooting guards from three at 40 percent.)
He was still learning the pick and roll.
He lacked confidence – Bogdanovic said he built confidence in his early 20s and began to understand how practice translates to confidence in games.
When Bogdanovic, the well-rounded, 25-year-old Sacramento Kings rookie, looks at fellow rookie De’Aaron Fox, who turned 20 in December, he sees a talented player who hasn’t fully grasped everything he can do on the floor.
“I really trust him … I know what he is capable to do and he’s an amazing player. He will learn a lot … he makes mistakes, and I make mistakes too, but he doesn’t realize yet how he can make easy advantages on the court, how he can get into the paint so easy,” Bogdanovic said.
De’Aaron Fox has had the type of season one would expect from a rookie drafted in the lottery – some amazing plays, solid games, bad games, questionable plays and learning experiences. In terms of stats per game, here is where he stacks up against other qualified NBA rookies:
· Assists (4.3): 5th
· Points Per Game (11.4): 9th
· Steals (.97): 7th
· Minutes (27.4): 10th
· Free Throw Percentage (72%): 17th
· Field Goal Percentage (41%): 25th
· Three Point Percentage (29%): 26th
· Rebounds (2.6): 28th
· Turnovers (2.3): 39th
Clearly, Fox has some things he needs to work on – specifically controlling his turnovers and improving his shot, though he has said he’s gained confidence in his shot over the course of the season. One thing that doesn’t show up on the stats sheet though is the numerous game-winners and game-tying shots in the last minutes of regulation. His mind-boggling speed also has been on full display this season, and he has moments where he locks down guys on defense. There also are times he gets exposed defensively, getting lost behind screens and taken off the dribble too easily. Defending NBA guards, especially in the pick and roll, is something the Kings coaching staff is working with Fox on, along with his shot and decision-making.
“I feel like I can be one of the best two-way players in this league at some time,” Fox said. “It’s just developing consistency throughout the game.”
He admits at this point in the season he is a little mentally fatigued. On multiple occasions he has either not started or finished games strongly. Yet he has the ability shake off bad plays and move on to the next one. Being able to fight through screens and defend at a high level will take some bulking up, and he is aware of that. He’s planning to work on that, along with improving his shot and playmaking this summer.
“Just work on my body. I know I’m young, but just be able to bang in this league,” said Fox, who doesn’t have a specific weight he is trying to reach. “Just whatever I feel as strong as possible, but don’t lose my quickness, my speed and my athleticism … I’ve never shied away from physicality ever in my life … but just being able to get stronger and being able to move guys.”
Bogdanovic agrees and knows there is a bright future for his teammate.
“He needs to take care of his body first to stay healthy and that is most important,” Bogdanovic said. “He will learn from the game – the NBA lifts you up as a player. Just by playing time you learn what you need to do and I know he’s a hard worker and he will get there, for sure … he’ll have a really big role in winning games.”