It’s been a difficult start of the season for the Sacramento Kings. After an 0-5 start the Kings bounced back to win two straight, and while two wins doesn’t signify that the ship is righted, there are small trends we can start to observe. With Marvin Bagley III still out with his fractured thumb, and Buddy Hield and Bogdan Bogdanovic continuing to struggle finding their outside shot (Buddy looked better against New York but is still down for the year overall), it’s becoming clear that success and failure is largely dependent on De’Aaron Fox.
When I think of the Kings season, their three best performances were the two wins over the Utah Jazz and New York Knicks, and the loss to the Portland Trail Blazers. The Portland game was very different from the other losses we witnessed. The Kings were engaged and played the Blazers tough even though they still fell apart in the second half. In all three games, there’s a clear trend that is absent in the team’s other games: De’Aaron Fox was aggressive at the rim and got to the free throw line.
In the three games where the Kings looked ok (Portland, Utah win, NY win), Fox had an average of 12 free throw attempts per game. In the other four games, just 3.75 attempts. That’s a huge difference. Last season Fox averaged 5.1 free throws per game. Even if Fox isn’t the league’s best free throw shooter at 72.5%, there’s a massive trickle down effect from Fox being aggressive and getting to the stripe. Aside from the additional points, getting the other team in foul trouble can force opponents to sit players for long stretches, and can get other Kings players easy points at the charity stripe.
Fox is showing that he can boost his free throws, and his continued aggression at the rim is going to be key for the Kings to turn this season around.