Analyzing why Fox will have a better career than Ball and Fultz
“With the 5th pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, the Sacramento Kings select, De’Aaron Fox,” commissioner Adam Silver echoed during the 2017 NBA draft. After those words came out of Silver’s mouth, Fox’s biggest dream became a reality.
After years of AAU basketball, Team USA assignments and a one-year campaign in Lexington, Fox has now earned the right to call himself an NBA player.
It was only a matter of if and when the Kings we’re going to draft Fox, as the buzz around “Fox at five” was commonly chattered among the Sacramento faithful. With the Kings lacking a youthful point guard it was ever so apparent that the Kings were all in with Fox.
The Sacramento war room grew ecstatic after every pick that Fox remained on the board. As soon as the Phoenix Suns selected Josh Jackson with the fourth pick, everyone knew that was the moment Fox was going to get crowned a Sacramento King.
Jackson or Jayson Tatum would have been secondary choices if all three were available at five according to Vlade Divac. Fox was Sacramento’s guy from the start and they got him.
“It was a guy that we all loved,” Divac said. “If we had the No. 1 pick, he would’ve been our guy. De’Aaron is our future.”
After years of no playoff appearances mixed with an overhanging dark cloud from the DeMarcus Cousins era, Divac has assured Kings fans that Fox will steer the once lost Kings out of the storm.
Why is Divac so convinced that Fox can rejuvenate the franchise? I can conclude from my own observations and I speak for many others by saying this, that it is Fox’s attitude that sets him apart.
When you take a look at the two point guards that were selected before Fox and observe their interviews and body language, it almost seems as if they are just ‘going through the motions.’
Fox is just not going through the motions. He breaks the mental barrier of being publicly viewed as humble and with great humility expands on multiple topics other than the basic questions asked during the media scrum.
Fox was asked before the draft, what if basketball wasn’t his calling? He answered the question with authority (like he had a backup plan all along) saying he would have been a business major if the whole basketball thing didn’t work out. Good thing for Kings fans and the city of Sacramento that Fox went the basketball route.
Fox doesn’t simply walk away from the podium after he speaks to the media, he exits by thanking all of media in the room and leaves the room on a good note. This is something that Sacramento has been missing from the face of its franchise and it’s finally here. It’s Fox’s time now.
At 19-years-old, Fox carries himself with such poise and is eager to become the face of a franchise. The unspoken leader and less media crazed Fox, has silently burst into the NBA with a clear path to write his name in history.
Unlike his point guard counterparts who were drafted before him, Fox has a clear mind and is not going to be handed an extreme weight as soon as he puts on an NBA jersey. No member of the media or any entity surrounding Fox has ushered him into the light of expectancy.
The Sacramento Kings are more than capable of handling someone with a personable attitude as the franchise had to deal with the total opposite for the last six years. The Kings aren’t in a win now situation, they’re in a grow day-by-day process.
With no extreme expectations of a number one pick like Markelle Fultz to come and save the process or a dad who has pushed his son in the limelight months before being selected by the Los Angeles Lakers, Fox is right where he wants to be.
“I feel like they really wanted me. The chemistry is up when you really like who you’re playing with, and I feel like I’m able to turn a franchise around,” Fox said. “They (Kings players) were in the gym when I was working out, and I can feel that they really want to get better. (And) the fan support. It’s really like Lexington. They really take pride in their basketball.”
Aside from the tremendous character that Fox exhibits, his speed and his defensive skillset is what sets him apart from Fultz and Ball.
“You can’t really teach speed,” Fox said. “Some have speed trainers and things like that but a person is fast or they’re not and that’s just a valuable asset. If you’re out there out running people you can’t really stop that, it’s hard to.”
It is easy to compare De’Aaron Fox to a 19-year-old John Wall. Wall was by far the fastest prospect out of his draft class and has used his speed to propel his game to where it is today. Fox’s speed is not the only thing that is comparable to a 19-year-old Wall, you can also compare their poor shooting in their freshman seasons at Kentucky.
Wall shot 32.5 percent from three his freshman year as Fox shot just under that at 24.6 percent. As Fox stated before, you can’t teach speed. But he did not say anything about shooting. Shooting is something that is solely worked on by mechanics. Muscle memory is something that can be teachable and is often a trait that many penalize during the draft process.
Yes, Fox has some work to do when it comes to his outside shot, but so did Wall. Wall shot 29 percent from beyond the arc his rookie season with the Wizards and has been able to increase his 3-point shooting percentage each year to remain in the mid 30 percent range and counting.
Fox has the skills that are necessary to evolve as a shooter and until those skills are fully developed, his speed and change of pace will be what will set him apart his first years in the NBA. Just like Wall.
I make this comparison not only because it’s the easy comparison with both guys being from Kentucky, but also, it is the best comparison available. Wall and Fox have been asked countless times about their similarities and Wall has stated that Fox will be the best point guard out of his class.
“A lot of people say it’s bias because he’s from Kentucky, but I think De’Aaron Fox might end up being the best point guard out of that class. He reminds me of myself a lot, just a lefty,” Wall told CSN in an interview.
Fox is set to take control of the Sacramento franchise and it goes unsaid in doing so. Divac and the Kings know what their roster will consist of and know what work needs to be done. No playoffs are in sight and no expectations have been dealt, unlike Ball.
Fox is embracing the wildcard role as the limelight has been on Fultz and Ball but more so on Ball. Fox has proved that he is better on the court in his two meetings against Ball during the NCAA season.
UCLA may have got the best of Kentucky in their first meeting in Las Vegas, but Fox won the battle against Ball. Fox was able to top Ball in almost every statistical category and was able to shut down Ball on defense.
In their second meeting in the NCAA Tournament is where Fox ultimately proved he is in fact superior to Ball. The hype surrounding Ball and his father LaVar was in full swing at this time and little praise was being shown to Fox and the Wildcats.
When asked about De’Aaron Fox, LaVar said the following: “He can’t mess with ‘Zo… I don’t know if he would be in the top five of the draft.”
Fox silenced LaVar for the meantime as he propelled Kentucky to a 86-75 victory over the Bruins advancing to the Elite Eight. Fox had a game that would solidify his position as a top five pick by scoring 39 points on 13-of-20 from the field. Ball scored 10 points on 4-of-10 from the field.
Although Fox had by far a better game than Ball and more importantly was able to show off his defensive ability, LaVar still labeled Fox as a non top five pick.
Those days are behind Fox and he has the accolades to prove it. The combination of his defensive and offensive skillsets displayed in that Sweet Sixteen and throughout the tournament proved that he is capable of being a well-rounded NBA point guard.
Although Fox had his offense going in most of his freshman season and more importantly in his matchups against Ball, his defense is what sets him apart.
“Defensively I feel like I really separated myself because I go at people not only offensively trying to score and get my teammates involved, but defensively I’ve always been trying to lock someone up,” said Fox. “And in this league it is going to be extremely tough. In this league you can’t really lock up a point guard by yourself; it’s more of a team effort.”
Now with Fox being a member of the Sacramento Kings and Ball being a member of the Lakers, the rivalry will continue on the big stage as both teams are in the same division.
“I want to say probably with Lonzo being No. 2 to LA and me being here, it gave a lot of people what they wanted. We’ll have to play each other four times in a year,” said Fox. “But like I said, it doesn’t give me any more motivation. Every night you’ve got to bring your “A” game in the NBA, especially playing the point guard position.”
With much respect for LaVar Ball and all of his marketing techniques used around his son, Ball will not enter the NBA with low expectations. The path that Ball Sr. has made for his son only has one way of travel and maybe the LA spotlight might be too much to digest.
Fox on the other hand is given the keys to an organization, not on his own. But with multiple growing pieces — similar to that of Fultz. So the comparisons of Ball and Fox should be halted and be more orientated towards a comparison of Fultz versus Fox.
What we know is that Fox had a better winning career at Kentucky and is more of a team-oriented player than Fultz was at Washington. Fultz led the Huskies to a dismal record of (9-22). He may have Fox beat right now as far as his offensive skill set and one-on-one talent, but Fox has him beat in the mental game.
Drafting Fultz for the short term is the right move by the Philadelphia 76er’s to complete their so called ‘process’ but Fox may have more longevity due to his basketball IQ and his willingness to learn.
If Fox’s shooting capability was at par with where Fultz’s is at right now, without a question Fox would have been the No. 1 overall draft pick. Everyone understands that organizations have to draft based on available skill and talent and in this case, the Sacramento Kings won.
By the 76ers and Lakers passing up on Fox, it allowed the Kings to draft their major piece for the future. With a league high of eight players under rookie contracts heading into next season, the Kings have all the room for improvement.
Fultz is expected to come into Philly and be the final piece to the process with two other pieces in Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid who have seen a combined 33 games on the court. And the 76ers may have another injury prone player on their hands with Fultz as he was sidelined towards the end of his freshman season with a knee injury.
The Lakers have gone all in with Ball as they traded away their 2015 first round pick, D’Angelo Russell just days before the draft. Magic Johnson has given Ball the keys to the franchise and has constantly said that he’ll be the next Laker great.
The Sacramento market and hype is on the positive end, which is something that doesn’t exist in Philadelphia or Los Angeles. Fox is ready for the transformation of a franchise with the help of a plethora of young talent.
“I feel like we can grow together,” Fox said. “Of course, it’s going to take some time, but every franchise takes time. I just want to help a city turn a franchise around. I’m finally where I want to be.”
The poised young leader resembles the plan Divac has had all along.
Subscribe to our YouTube Channel and Podcast