The Sacramento Kings are hopeful that they already have two foundational pieces in place for years to come. Point guard De’Aaron Fox was drafted fifth overall in 2017 and has continued to improve each season he’s been in the NBA.
General manager Monte McNair had the steal of the draft fall into his place last year when Tyrese Haliburton was available at No. 12. Fox will be 24, and Haliburton will be 22 by the end of next season, giving the Kings a strong young core to build around.
Haliburton — who played for the USA Select Team this offseason — hopped on ESPN’s Zach Lowe’s podcast and touched on a few subjects.
Lowe and Haliburton discussed what they have learned watching the NBA playoffs, particularly what they have seen from the backcourts of the Phoenix Suns and Atlanta Hawks. Haliburton said he and Fox have been taking notes on how Chris Paul, Devin Booker and Trae Young have been so efficient on the offensive end.
“Just like the how the backcourts are dominating games. How D-Book and CP have had some crazy efficient games where they’re combining for like, maybe four or five turnovers. They’re really taking control of the game they run a lot of stack action. Phoenix lives in that stack action with CP, Book, and Ayton, they run that to death.
“So, just looking at that stuff, I think is cool for us to see it as a young backcourt, and as a young team to see the success Atlanta had I think that’s cool to see because it, it makes us be like man, why not us?”
The Kings have missed the playoffs for 15 consecutive seasons, and the hope is that Fox and Haliburton will help end the postseason drought sooner than later.
Fox averaged a career-high 25.2 points and 7.2 assists last season. He shot 32.2 percent from deep while attempting 5.5 3-pointers per game, the most of his career. Despite numerous injuries and a few battles with COVID-19, Sacramento hung around the playoff picture until the end of the season.
Fox missed the final 13 games of the season but showcased why he could be an All-Star in the near future. However, Haliburton believes Fox doesn’t get the credit he deserves from around the league.
“I think, Fox gets disrespected in this league by by people. I think he’s had an amazing year this year and that people don’t really understand how good De’Aaron [Fox] is.”
Haliburton — who finished third in NBA Rookie of the Year voting — acknowledged that the only way Fox and the rest of the Kings will earn respect around the league is getting back into the postseason and playing under the national spotlight.
“That kind of comes with not making the playoffs, right? You’re not going to get that love until you get to the playoffs so. That’s just the goal because I would love for people to see what he can do on a big stage, what we can do on a big stage in a competitive basketball game, that’s definitely the goal.”
Haliburton and Fox played 960 minutes together last season and finished with a minus-4.7 net rating, per NBA.com. Although the underlying numbers aren’t great, the pair flashed their potential together. Haliburton is an excellent complementary piece to Fox, giving Sacramento another playmaker it desperately needed.
It’s a big offseason for the Kings. McNair and co. have reportedly done their homework on a potential Ben Simmons deal, but don’t expect Haliburton or Fox to be included in any trade talks.