The Sacramento Kings are 15 games into a 72-game schedule, or about 20% through their season. That means we’re also 20% into De’Aaron Fox’s 4th NBA season, and 20% of the way done with the first season following De’Aaron Fox signing a rookie max extension for 5 years and $163 million. As we look at the season so far, we can see that the Kings are still bad, and that Fox hasn’t been doing enough to lift the Kings up.
To be clear, De’Aaron Fox deserved a max extension. He is the caliber of young player that gets a max extension in free agency, but allowing him to reach free agency would be an unnecessary show of force by the franchise and would accomplish little other than hurting feelings. Our own Tim Maxwell explained before the extension why it would be a no-brainer.
Fox remains the Kings best player, and Fox still remains just 23 years old. A five year extension that kicks in next season isn’t going to be a success or failure based on these 15 games.
Yet there’s still some concern as Fox hasn’t set hearts aflutter with any consistency. He had an incredible 43 points outing against the New Orleans Pelicans, but it came on the heels of a pedestrian 14 point showing against the Clippers.
Last night Fox came out aggressive again, fueling hopes that maybe the Pelicans game was the start of something new, but after scoring 15 points in the first half Fox finished with a quiet 10 points in the second half.
For the year, Fox is averaging 20.8 points, 5.9 assists, and 3.0 rebounds. The scoring is below last season’s average of 21.1, and well below his scoring average in the Orlando bubble. Fox’s assists are the lowest they’ve been since his rookie season, and the same is true of his rebounding.
Fox’s shooting overall is similar to what it’s been in year’s past, and his three point shooting is at a respectable 35.5% right now, but it isn’t translating to overall improvement. De’Aaron Fox, for as good as he is, is not better than he was last year, and that’s disappointing.
Fox, of course, doesn’t play in a vacuum. The roster is not constructed to maximize Fox’s abilities, with big men still clogging the lane on a regular basis and taking away Fox’s supernatural ability to get to the rim. Fox finds himself in the same dilemma that has befallen many young Kings players; we don’t know if the Kings are bad because Fox isn’t good enough to lift the team up, or if Fox looks worse because the Kings are simply dragging him down.
Fox has the talent and production to unequivocally be called a young star in the NBA, but he’s falling short of the superstar hopes that Kings fans had for him. The book is not finished, and we’ll hope that Fox makes these concerns look foolish over the remainder of this year, but right now Fox isn’t playing like he can be the best player on a good team.