De’Aaron Fox has gone nuclear.
In the 12 games since the Kings cleared the runway for him at the trade deadline, Fox is averaging 27.9 points per game while shooting 51.8% from the field and 35.7% from three. Fox is playing some of the best basketball of his career.
The culmination of this stretch was Saturday’s 44 point performance against the Dallas Mavericks. Fox was the best player on the court and got whenever he wanted. There wasn’t a player in Dallas blue that had a chance to stay in front of No. 5.
Everyone knows about Fox’s game-breaking speed, but Fox also had it going from three and mid-range, which makes defending his drives even more complicated when defenders can’t sag off of him and force him to shoot.
Sure, he’s not going to score 44 points most nights, but that type of dynamism Fox showed was notably absent for the few months of the season.
After his rocky start to the season, it’s been great to see Fox regain the form he showed last season, averaging a career-high 25.2 points per game and being one of the most devastating players in the NBA around the basket.
Undoubtedly, part of this terrific play can be connected to the trade of Tyrese Haliburton for Domantas Sabonis. It’s nothing against Haliburton, who has a ton of potential long-term and has played exceptionally with Indiana since the trade. It just was never the most synchronous of basketball fits with them together on the court.
The Kings are +7.0 in points per 100 possession with De'Aaron Fox on the floor.— Kings Film Room (@SacFilmRoom) March 8, 2022
That impact ranks in the 92nd percentile of all PGs, and ahead the likes of:
Fox has carried the Kings offense. pic.twitter.com/3v6erJOW0e
So in a way, in addition to getting a low-level all-star in Sabonis, they might have also unlocked another low-level all-star in Fox.
The trade might not have been the most brilliant long-term play for the team, given Haliburton’s youth and contractual status, but it has unlocked the best version of Fox.
Whether it’s the stink of playing on dreadful rosters with the Kings during his first five seasons or a general skepticism of players that score many points on bad teams, Fox isn’t getting much national attention for his recent hot play.
Sure, the Kings are still very much a lousy team and don’t seem all that, but that shouldn’t be attributed to Fox, but rather the lack of talent around him.
In his five years in Sacramento, the organization has failed to put the requisite talent for him numbers to be considered a “winning player.” Remember, guys like Devin Booker, and Zach LaVine were seen in the same light Fox is now, as guys who put up empty numbers on bad teams. Now that LaVine and Booker got surrounded by real talent, they are perennial all-stars.
Adding Sabonis is a start, but the team just needs more talent around those two guys if they wish to compete on any actual level.
Suppose the Kings build around this version of Fox and add some more legitimate starting-level talent this offseason. If they do, the team would be a lot better, and Fox could very well be playing in his first career all-star game next season.