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30Q: How can De’Aaron Fox evolve into a scoring juggernaut?

A couple of adjustments to De'Aaron's game could see him rise to the top-10 in NBA scoring.

Over the last four years, De'Aaron Fox's growth as a scorer has been nearly unprecedented. As a rookie in 2017, he ranked 143rd in the NBA in scoring, averaging 11.6 points per game. Last year, he skyrocketed all the way to 16th in the league, more than doubling his scoring average to 25.2 per game. And that increase hasn't simply come as a result of starting games and playing additional minutes. His points per-36 minutes have seen a similar climb, from 15 to 19.8 to 23.8 to 25.8.

De'Aaron's scoring prowess mostly finds its genesis in his ability to attack the rim and either score, draw a foul, or both. In 2020, he placed second among all point guards in frequency of shooting fouls drawn, earning free throws on 17.1% of his shooting attempts, including over 22% of the time when he attacked the paint. Unfortunately for Fox and the Kings, he was unable to consistently convert his shots from the charity stripe, a major area of concern heading into the 2021 campaign.

As one of the league leaders in free throw attempts, Fox must do a better job of converting at the line. Last year, he sunk just 71.9% of his attempts, ranking in the 18th percentile among point guards. Of the 20 players who averaged at least six free throw attempts per game in 2020, De'Aaron placed 16th. Those percentages have to come up if Fox wishes to join the truly elite scorers in the league. In fact, if he had sunk 85% of his attempts, league-average for a lead ball-handler last season, his scoring output would have jumped by about one point per game, pushing him to 13th in the league in scoring.

As much as converting a higher percentage of free throws would have helped Fox last season, his three-point shooting is truly the area in which his scoring game can evolve from pretty good to league-elite. Similar to his free throw shooting, De'Aaron's percentage from beyond the arc was incredibly low for a point guard, ranking in just the 12th percentile. If Fox was able to work his way to merely average from deep, 36.4% to be exact, his scoring would increase again increase by about a point per game, and more importantly, the other areas of his offensive attack would open up as defenses adapted to his new and improved shooting. However, unlike free throw shooting, which is nothing more than repeated muscle memory, improving three-point accuracy often has just as much to do with shot selection as it does shooting form, and De'Aaron Fox is no exception to that rule.

Last season, Fox shot a discouraging 32% from deep, but that was mostly due to the fact that the vast majority of his attempts, 91% of them, came from his weakest spot on the floor, the top of the arc. Fox sank just 31.6% of his three-pointers from that spot, while he made 36.8% of his shots from the left corner and an astounding 41.7% of his attempts from the right-hand side of the court. It would behoove both the Kings and Fox to find ways to increase his attempts from either corner, as that would not only increase his overall effectiveness from beyond the arc, but the cumulative effect of regularly seeing the ball snap the nets would undoubtedly help Fox at the top of the key as well.

De'Aaron would also be better served if he decreased the frequency of his pull-up three-point attempts, which often come at the top of the key. Last year, he attempted 3.8 pull-ups per game, nearly doubling his frequency from 2019, in which he took two on average. Unfortunately, Fox was awful in that situation, converting 30% of his attempts, the worst mark of any player who attempted at least 3.5 per game. Conversely, De'Aaron was fantastic in catch-and-shoot situations, sinking 39.3% of his shots. While it's absolutely true that a rim-oriented player such as Fox needs to occasionally take a pull-up jumper to keep opposing defenses honest, his radical increase in the toughest sort of three-pointer did him not a bit of good last season. Better shot selection and execution, from Fox, his teammates, and the coaching staff, would go quite far in helping De'Aaron to become a consistent threat from beyond the arc.

Anyone who has watched the Sacramento Kings over the last few years has recognized De'Aaron Fox's potential as a top scorer in the league. Throughout his career, he's improved his areas of strength tremendously, developing into one of the NBA's most devastating rim attackers, but it's now time for Fox to shift from strengthening strengths to shoring up weaknesses. If De'Aaron truly wants to join the league's elite scorers, his consistency from the free throw line and accuracy and shot selection from beyond the arc must improve dramatically.

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Rosevillain
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September 15, 2021 10:38 am

Can he ever be the leader of a team that wins more than 30 games is the question. Personally, I’d much rather see a team built on defense and ball movement, than Fox iso ball.

Adamsite
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Nostradumbass 14
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Nostradumbass 14
September 15, 2021 10:53 am
Reply to  Rosevillain

Agreed. I’m not sure the Kings really benefit from a high scoring/high usage Fox. Last season he topped 30% usage for the first time and put up peak John Wall and Derrick Rose type numbers when they hit similar numbers. They broke down soon after that.

I’m in the camp that has serious concerns about riding Fox that hard. He is a guy that relies heavily on his first step and athleticism, much like Rose and Wall did. I feel the Kings run the very real risk of breaking down Fox unless he is given help to lighten his load.

Daydreamer
September 15, 2021 11:12 am
Reply to  Adamsite

Davion!!

Kingsguru21
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September 15, 2021 12:36 pm
Reply to  Rosevillain

Perhaps this bar should be raised to 40 or 50 wins. Especially since 3 of the 4 years De’Aaron Fox has been on the Kings they’ve reached 30+ wins.

I know your point is that De’Aaron isn’t a leader regardless of win total. Did he steal your girl or piss in your cheerios or somethin’?

Last edited 28 days ago by Kingsguru21
Rosevillain
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September 15, 2021 1:49 pm
Reply to  Kingsguru21

Sorry, 31 wins the last two years. My egregious and highly personal error. Typical Sacramento small town, persnickety thinking. Man, if we could just get that elusive 10 seed.

Believe me, I want Fox to lead this team to wins, and more importantly playoff wins, as much as anyone. He’s a super likable and sometimes brilliant player. But until any of that happens, he’s just another expendable empty stats guy. And in this case, one who frustratingly hasn’t learned how to fight through a screen on D in four years. I could care less if he scores 30 a night or whether he’s perceived as a leader, and I’m not even going to get into his inexplicable Luke love, just deliver the wins, and we’ll all shut the hell up.

Kingsguru21
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September 15, 2021 2:12 pm
Reply to  Rosevillain

I have to say that I’d be persnickety even if I were from New York, London or Hong Kong. I’m just a persnickety motherfucker by nature.

You want to see wins? Me too. I’d also like to see a roster capable of wins. Is De’Aaron Fox blameless? No. But I suspect if you took a poll of the fanbase and asked them whether or not the Kings ever had a legit shot at the playoffs during his 4 seasons in Sac, I’m guessing the answer is mostly no.

Fox needs to get better, alot better in key areas like shooting to make a real impact offensively. I’ve said this before. Who hasn’t? So my question becomes : Will De’Aaron Fox get better or not? I don’t know, but I would say he’s the best bet of anyone on the Kings roster currently to make at least an ASG or two.

Last edited 28 days ago by Kingsguru21
Rosevillain
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September 15, 2021 2:40 pm
Reply to  Kingsguru21

Yeah, I could care even less about ASGs or the other popularity contests. Bottom line, true young stars turn around franchises quickly, regardless of roster. See Luka, Trae, Ja, Donovan just off the top of my head. This is year five for Fox. We shouldn’t even be discussing potential anymore.

Sacto_J
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September 15, 2021 3:07 pm
Reply to  Rosevillain

You can give the best method actor a crap script and the resulting movie is still going to be crap despite that actor’s best efforts or the best supporting cast you’ve ever seen.
Fox gets handed his scripts from Walton. What are you expecting, here? 30+ wins is a freakin’ miracle, really.

Rosevillain
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September 15, 2021 3:13 pm
Reply to  Sacto_J

Apparently Fox loves Walton, so maybe he likes Sharknado scripts, too.

Kosta
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