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Does De’Aaron Fox deserve to be an All-Star?

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His case was probably stronger a week ago.

Brooklyn Nets v Sacramento Kings Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images

The All-Star starters were announced Thursday, and unsurprisingly, no Kings made the cut. However, there is a chance that De’Aaron Fox cracks the list of reserves as the first Sacramento All-Star since 2017. In an All-Star column on NBC Sports, Dan Feldman writes this about Fox:

Kings guard De’Aaron Fox should obviously be an All-Star this year. Everyone with his stats (23.2 points per game and 6.8 assists per game, 52.8 effective field-goal percentage) over a full season has been an All-Star.

The only problem? Feldman notes that 77 players have similar statistical cases to be All-Stars. Seventy-seven.

In fact, Fox isn’t even the only King who has a credible All-Star case:

Kings forward Harrison Barnes should obviously be an All-Star this year. Everyone with his stats (15.8 points, 6.2 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game, 53.9% on 2-pointers, 38.8% on 3-pointers, 84.3% on free throws) over a full season has been an All-Star.

Obviously, there are only 24 All-Stars, and Feldman has to dig pretty deep among the stats to find the argument for Barnes. But the fact remains that 35 Western Conference players have historical cases to be an All-Star, but only 12 of them will earn the nod. Five of them — LeBron James, Nikola Jokic, Kawhi Leonard, Stephen Curry, and Luka Doncic — are starters, leaving seven remaining spots for 30 players.

Among those 30, four can be considered locks for reserves: Damian Lillard, Rudy Gobert, Donovan Mitchell, and Paul George.

That leaves three openings, one of which has to be a frontcourt player, so if Fox were to be an All-Star, he would have to earn one of the two Wild Card positions.

Here is a reasonable list (all due apologies to Barnes) in alphabetical order of who is in consideration for the final two All-Star selections in the West: Devin Booker, Mike Conley, Anthony Davis, DeMar DeRozan, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Brandon Ingram, CJ McCollum, Chris Paul, Zion Williamson, and Christian Wood.

Most pundits have Davis on their ballots, but the Lakers big will assuredly miss the All-Star Game with an injury, so Fox could be competing with the rest of those players for the injury replacement spot if he misses the first round of reserves.

Let’s see how these players stack up statistically. Note: these stats are as of Monday, February 22 whereas the NBC Sports column was published on Thursday, February 18.

Western Conference All-Star Reserves

Player GP PPG RPG APG 2P% 3P%
Player GP PPG RPG APG 2P% 3P%
Devin Booker 25 24.3 3.8 4.3 55.1 37.2
Mike Conley 24 16.5 3.5 5.6 49.6 41.0
DeMar DeRozan 25 19.8 5.0 6.9 51.4 33.3
De'Aaron Fox 29 22.3 3.2 7.1 52.3 33.6
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander 24 22.6 5.3 6.5 54.5 40.0
Brandon Ingram 30 23.9 5.3 4.7 51.2 39.4
CJ McCollum 13 26.7 3.9 5.0 51.3 44.1
Chris Paul 28 17.1 4.6 8.5 53.7 39.8
Zion Williamson 29 25.1 6.8 3.1 62.6 35.3
Christian Wood 17 22.0 10.2 1.3 61.3 42.1

And if advanced stats are more your cup of tea, we can check those out, too.

West Reserves Advanced Stats

Player PER RPM RAPTOR
Player PER RPM RAPTOR
Devin Booker 17.50 0.61 1.5
Mike Conley 19.92 5.50 9.5
DeMar DeRozan 21.79 -1.29 1.0
De'Aaron Fox 18.80 2.72 0.6
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander 21.53 0.67 1.6
Brandon Ingram 20.67 1.16 0.9
CJ McCollum 26.38 8.04 7.1
Chris Paul 21.16 3.10 3.6
Zion Williamson 26.67 1.23 1.3
Christian Wood 24.17 4.63 6.8

Two Mondays ago, when Fox was Western Conference player of the week, there was a compelling argument that he was outpacing the other guards in the West. He was leading the Kings to wins, often with heroic crunch-time performances, while proving unguardable against some of the better teams in the league. Fox was being aggressive at creating his own shot so that it opened up looks for others and his defense was coming along, if not at the level of his offense.

Now, Fox has taken a dip. Among guards, he isn’t as efficient of a scorer as his competitors, and his assist total is lower than Chris Paul, who also has him beat on the impact numbers and is on a winning team. Fox would probably edge out Christian Wood thanks to games played, and he has comparable numbers to Brandon Ingram, but Fox is doing his work as a no. 1 option. Then again, Ingram’s team’s no. 1 option — Zion Williamson — is making quite the push for that final spot with his scoring volume and overall efficiency.

The case for Fox is that, with all due respect to his teammates, he is working with less talent on the Kings than Paul, Devin Booker, Ingram, Williamson, or Mike Conley. That makes his job more difficult, and Fox has shown real flashes of brilliance despite that tall task.

Michael Pina of Sports Illustrated has Fox has one of his wild cards, citing Fox’s ability to get to the basket at a high rate and finish despite his size. Fox’s clutch stats are still quite good despite Sacramento’s recent swoon.

But Fox is not blameless in that losing streak, and his inability to maintain that level that propelled him into the national conversation probably means that he is one year away from being on the All-Star ballot. The good news is that Fox is meaningfully a part of the discussion for the first time in his career. That’s a step forward, even if it doesn’t get him on the roster.