De’Aaron Fox is driving the Sacramento Kings this season. Vlade Divac and company have built the roster, and Dave Joerger is directing the attack, but Fox is the one who will be the in control of the ball, responsible for making it all work. And while there is a ton for Fox to improve on—his success at the rim, his playmaking vision, his individual and team defensive awareness—there’s still the big, obvious question that has hung over Fox’s head since he was drafted 5th overall last season; how’s his shot?
Can he become a least a league-average shooter? Is he destined to just be a top-flight speedster who opponents have to give space to... or can he develop the gravity with his shooting ability to where they have to stick much closer to him? Can he be the prophesied hero who breaks the Shaun Livingston curse on bad-shooting point guards?
Beyond the obvious stats—true shooting percentage, and three point percentage—the one shooting statistic I’ll be most eager to watch in Fox’s second season is his off-the-dribble success. The most useful skill for a dynamic change-of-pace mover like Fox is the ability to hit off the dribble, and he made a solid improvement—from 29.9% in college to 34.1% with the Kings (including a 31.7% clip on three-point pull-ups). And given the absence of a certain 6’8 shall-not-be-named playmaker on the wing, it seems the Kings are betting on Fox’s ability to create his own shot like this, rather than develop his catch-and-shot off-ball shot that would have benefited him in a two-playmaker system.
NBA defenders offered up the opinion of the rest of the league last season; they gave Fox a cushion, dared him to shoot, and tried and protect against him bolting past them. Does that change this year? Warping his offensive gravity and becoming a real long-ball threat is the key for Fox to become the All-Star level player the franchise wants him to be. Let’s see how that shot looks in year two.