I can’t recall a prospect in my time covering the Sacramento Kings over the past 10 years that fans are falling more in love with more than De’Aaron Fox.
The one-and-done point guard out of Kentucky is making his way through pre-draft workouts and it seems teams, scouts and fans all over are developing a bit of an obsession with this guy. And for good reason.
For me it started when he was at the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago, Illinois. Unlike many top prospects these days he attended the combine. He took advantage of the time to meet with multiple teams and the message he was sending is that HE feels he is the best point guard in the draft.
It’s not unusual for young fellas to be confident in themselves, sometimes overly so. But for some reason Fox saying he is better than projected No. 1 and No. 2 picks Markelle Fultz (Washington) and Lonzo Ball (UCLA) didn’t rub me the wrong way.
Just him having the wherewithal to attend and take advantage of meeting with teams and using the opportunity to sell himself tells me how seriously he is taking the process and his future NBA career.
He’s well spoken. He’s endearing. He’s putting in the effort. He’s saying all the right things.
Fox sat down recently with Aaron Torres of Fox Sports for a Q&A session to discuss his predraft workouts with the Kings and Lakers as well as what seems to be a budding rivalry with Lonzo Ball. One of the best things in this piece is his personal scouting report. He said the following:
FOX SPORTS: Throughout this draft process there’s been so much talk about the three point guards at the top, you, Markelle, Lonzo. If you had to give a scouting report on De’Aaron Fox, tell us why he should be the first guard off the board.
DE’AARON: He’s just always in attack mode. That’s something you want out of a point guard. Can score the ball, can get his teammates involved, can defend. I feel like he does everything on the court. Especially in this league, a lot of the time the point guard is the most talented player on the team. You want someone who is extremely talented at that position. I’m not saying that the other two guys aren’t, but he’s going to be the best out of the crop.
I can’t quite put my finger on it yet but there is just something about this kid that has me intrigued.
Evaluating prospects in this league is extremely difficult. These guys are kids. Most have just one year of college experience under their belt. The sheer lack of time available from the time they step on campus in the fall to the conclusion of March Madness and the NCAA tournament doesn’t lend itself to true development.
College coaches wring every ounce of talent they possibly can out of these kids before shipping them off to the NBA. They they start the process all over again. I’m not a fan of this but as long as the NBA’s one-and-done rule sticks around nothing is going to change this dynamic.
Consider this reply to a question about a weakness in Fox’s game for example:
FOX SPORTS: It’s funny, it seems like your shot [Fox made just 24 percent of his three-pointers last season] was a huge deal at Kentucky, but now no one seems to be worried. Why is it that no one is concerned at all?
DE’AARON: I think it’s just the repetition of [being able to practice] it. Now that I’m preparing for the NBA I don’t have class to worry about, anything to worry about. I can be in the gym all day, get the reps in. I’m confident in my shot. So if someone is worried about it, that’s on them.
There is a ton of things these kids have to learn to juggle in their quick time on a college campus. This includes things like adjusting to being on their own and the process of becoming an adult with adult responsibilities…things we very rarely talk about.
But Fox’s answer tells me he gets it. Once you’re a professional your JOB is to constantly be working on your game. That’s time in the gym working on skill development, conditioning, etc. That’s time in the weight room transforming your body to be able to compete with grown men. That’s having the right people around you like dieticians/nutritionists who will ensure that your body is being treated like a machine. It’s also time breaking down game film of not only you but your opponents.
Far too few NBA players (vets included) truly get that. I’ll admit when I was playing in the WNBA I didn’t fully get it or optimize my time or develop myself properly.
I just get a feeling De’Aaron Fox is not and will not be that way.
The final thing that sealed the deal for me was his answer to the question about the reputation around the league about the Sacramento Kings and prospects not wanting to workout for them…
FOX SPORTS: What about the vibe around the team? For years you heard stories that top prospects didn’t want to work out for them. Now it seems like everyone is on board with Sacramento. Is that what it felt like to you when you were out there?
DE’AARON: I’ve heard about people not wanting to go there, but if I’m able to change a culture, that’s what I want to do.
There’s nowhere that I want to go [more than any other place]. But there’s nowhere that I don’t want to go, either. I’m fine wherever I land as long as I can show what I can do, just play, help change a team.
The Kings are in the midst of desperately trying to change the perception and reputation of this franchise. The only way to do that is to change the culture.
It’s sounds clichéd but it’s the truth. For this franchise to move in the direction that ownership, management and the fans want it to go in…it HAS to reconstruct and rebuild the culture from the ground up.
Having said that, I truly believe De’Aaron Fox could be a guy that would make a huge impact on that process.
My only fear is that other NBA teams picking in the Top 4 of Thursday’s draft see the very same thing in him and that Fox will not be there at No. 5 for the Kings. But IF he is, Fox is a guy I would go all in on and then let the chips fall.
We shall see.