The hopes of the Sacramento Kings ending their 16-year playoff drought rely heavily on De’Aaron Fox consistently playing like the All-Star caliber player he has only been in stretches so far during his career.
Fox alone is not why the Kings have been a lousy basketball team. Instead, he’s been a passenger on the basketball Titanic, with countless different coaches and teammates falling by the wayside during this time.
Heading into this season, the Kings, for the first time in his career, have a roster with a rotation of legit NBA talent.
If Fox and the Kings have another season winning in the low 30s, it is probably time to reevaluate the idea of building a team around him.
To start last season, Fox stumbled through the first half of the season, looking just like a less athletic and interested version of himself. This may have been due to some muscle he reportedly added before last season, which did more to hurt his game than help it. Per his Twitter, that won’t be the case again this year.
Once he turned it on, he was exceptional, playing perhaps the best basketball of his career, albeit in games that didn’t really matter in any meaningful way. During this stretch, Fox was playing with so much confidence after shedding weight he added earlier in the season, and he was blowing by guys regularly with the wicked first step and speed that has made him an effective NBA player.
Additionally, shot 38 percent from three in the 16 games he played in February and March. Fox also improved his free throw shooting during this period, shooting nearly 80 percent in this time.
For Sacramento to end its grueling 16-year playoff drought, a sluggish start like that just can’t happen again this season. Fox has to be the player he was starting in February once the Kings acquired Sabonis. With Fox, Sabonis and more overall depth than the team has had in years, the time to win is now.
Another key thing for Fox this season is not being a traffic cone on defense.
Some of these struggles can be attributed to the heavy load he carries on offense, but a significant portion of his defensive issues are related to a lack of effort.
For whatever reason, Fox seems to get up on defense for the stars at the point guard position like Ja Morant and Trae Young, but he often gets picked on by guys who have no business doing so. Namely, T.J. McConnell and James Bouknight gave Fox the business in games last season.
Fox doesn’t even have to be all-world on defense. He needs not to be a clear negative, as he’s been far too often in his career.
If Fox can do this, there’s reason to believe the Kings can mercifully end the drought, and he could make his first All-Star game appearance.
If he doesn’t, the drought will continue, and the Kings will have to consider moving on from him and changing the overall direction of the franchise.
Off the court, Fox has had a big summer, tying the knot to his long-time girlfriend, Recee Caldwell, with some of the Kings’ brass in attendance.
Even with this major life event happening, Fox still had an eye on the season, being pictured with new Kings assistant Luke Loucks in Italy during his honeymoon. Fox even left his honeymoon early to get back to the states to work out, according to Caldwell.
We’re cutting our honeymoon short to go back home to workout also lol can’t say he doesn’t care— Recee Caldwell (@Cee_Caldwell) August 18, 2022
Fox finally has the talent around him, and this season it’s time he becomes the franchise player he has shown glimpses of being.
To put it bluntly, it’s an enormous year for No. 5.