It’s no secret that the Sacramento Kings’ future hinges on the success of star point guard De’Aaron Fox. Fresh off signing a five-year deal that could be worth up to $195.6 million, the 22-year-old is the face of the franchise.
The Kentucky product has improved in each of his seasons since entering the NBA. Fox’s numbers over his first three seasons have a similar trajectory to perennial All-Star Damian Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers.
Fox played in 51 games last season, averaging 21.1 points and 6.8 assists. Still, the lightning-quick point guard didn’t get the respect that he deserves. Fox believes that narrative will change now that the organization will pay him like a true superstar.
“All that I think is thrown out the door, because you’re not being paid like an underrated player,” Fox said during his media day availability Tuesday. “I’m trying to take that next step into becoming a better player and that has to do with helping my team win.”
The average age of Sacramento’s roster is 25.8, and without another bona fide star on the team, Fox will have to take the next step as a leader. Even though he’s just shy of his 23rd birthday, he knows what he needs to do to assert himself in the locker room.
“For me, it’s continuing to be more comfortable in my body and my voice, make sure guys hear me,” Fox said. “Just shooting out text messages here and there. I’ve talked to Tyrese (Haliburton) a few times, and just being able to text him and go through things because we haven’t been able to get together as a team.”
New general manager Monte McNair is taking a patient approach to building the Kings into a contender. The organization let the efficient Bogdan Bogdanovic go in free agency and brought in a few cheap veterans to help Sacramento’s financial flexibility going forward.
Even though Fox wants to win now, he’s confident in McNair’s vision to help the organization have a sustained run of success.
“A lot of the times it’s about the long-term goal, if we’re able to win for three, four or five, six years, that’s the goal,” Fox said. “We’re still coming into the season where we are trying to win as many games as possible. But at the end of the day, you’re thinking about the longevity of this league and being able to win for a long period of time.”
For Sacramento to take the next step, head coach Luke Walton has to alter the team’s style of play to fit its personnel. Fox is one of the fastest players in the NBA, but the Kings ranked 19th in pace during Walton’s first season with the team. The head coach said he wants to modernize his offense going into the new year, which is something Fox has welcomed.
“With the type of players that we have on this team, we know that we can get the ball up and down the floor,” Fox said. “We can get early shots if we want, but we can still at the end of the day, be able to get the shots that we want. So, offensively it’s definitely a fun style.”
Individually, Fox is aware that he needs to be a more consistent jump shooter if he wants to make the leap in his career. He also knows the team has to develop the right habits if they wish to end the NBA’s longest postseason drought.
Sacramento deserves a winner for supporting the franchise through 14 playoff-less seasons. Fox acknowledges that it is part of his motivation to become one of the league’s best players.
“I love the fans, it’s defintely been great since I’ve been here,” Fox said. “I was at Kentucky, that was the show there. I want to be able to bring wins to the city, and bring wins to this franchise.”
What are your expectations for Fox this season?