Similar to their playoff struggles, the Sacramento Kings haven’t had much luck in sending players to the All-Star game over the last fifteen years. DeMarcus Cousins was the sole representative for the city of Sacramento in that span, making the team from the 2014-2015 to the 2016-2017 season, before being traded to the New Orleans Pelicans during All-Star weekend in 2017.
De’Aaron Fox is the newest iteration of DeMarcus Cousins, in that he’s the hopeful potential cornerstone, and De’Aaron has recently been recognized by a couple of publications one of the most talented up-and-coming prospects in the league. ESPN ranked Fox as the 25th best player in the NBA, while Sports Illustrated slotted him 33rd. That’s the type of recognition that could lead to an All-Star bid, as 24 players are elected each season, and that’s before any injury replacements. If De’Aaron was playing in the Eastern Conference, his selection would be nearly guaranteed, but the West offers a much tougher battle. Over the last four years, the same carousel of superstars have populated the Western Conference All-Star guard lineup.
|2019||Harden, Curry, Westbrook Thompson, Lillard|
|2018||Harden, Curry, Westbrook, Thompson, Lillard|
|2017||Harden, Curry, Westbrook, Thompson|
|2016||Harden, Curry, Westbrook, Thompson, Paul, Bryant|
James Harden, Steph Curry, Russell Westbrook, and Klay Thompson have all made consistent appearances, and Damian Lillard has made the team for the last two consecutive seasons. That group would likely hold the line again next February, but Thompson’s unfortunate knee injury will keep him out of the picture. One to two spots will be open come voting time, and De’Aaron Fox may have an outside shot to snag the final slot.
The first major impact on Fox’s candidacy will be Sacramento’s record heading into the voting window. Of the 20 All-Star guards, only one player was selected from a team with a losing record as of February 1st, and that was Kobe Bryant during the 2015-2016 season. The Los Angeles Lakers were 9-41 at the time, and Bryant was putting up just 17.6 points, 3.7 rebounds and 2.8 assists on 36/28/82 shooting splits during his retirement tour. For comparison’s sake, Andrew Wiggins averaged 18.2 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 2.5 assists on 41/34/40 splits in 2019. None of the deserving All-Stars were elected from a team under .500. The Kings will need to be smack in the middle of the playoff hunt for De’Aaron to have a chance.
From an individual standpoint, Fox will need to dramatically increase his per-game numbers, and specifically his scoring, to make the squad. The 19 non-legacy invites averaged 26 points, 6 rebounds, 8.1 assists, and 2 steals per game in their selection years. Of that group, only one player fell short of the 20 point per game threshold, and that was Chris Paul during the 2015-2016 season. He was under by just 0.5 points, and he also averaged 10 assists and was one of the best perimeter defenders in the NBA. De’Aaron’s going to need to boost his scoring output by four to six points per game, as well as increasing his rebounding efforts, to boost his resume.
Even if Fox increases his personal contributions and the Kings post a winning record next year, making the All-Star Team will be an uphill battle. Outside of Harden, Curry, Westbrook, and Lillard, De’Aaron will need to beat out big names like Chris Paul, Donovan Mitchell, Luka Doncic, Mike Conley, Jrue Holiday, DeMar DeRozan, CJ McCollum, Devin Booker, and D’Angelo Russell for the final couple of spots. De’Aron Fox is one of the best young star in the NBA, but it he may need one of the regulars to start their decline before he’s able to represent the Kings in as a Western Conference All-Star.