NBC Sports

Fox falls in ESPN rankings despite major improvements

NBC Sports

Despite reports to the contrary, De’Aaron Fox is slipping. At least that is what the ESPN preseason’s rankings would have you believe.

After coming in at No. 25 last season, Fox fell nine spots to No. 34 in the annual rankings. He’s nestled in between a pair of Milwaukee Bucks players in Khris Middleton (35) and Jrue Holiday (33).

“For Fox to make the jump to superstar status, he'll have to rediscover his jump shot after dropping to just 29% on 3s last season,” draft expert Mike Schmitz writes. “According to Second Spectrum data, Fox's defender went under the screen 312 times last season, the fourth-most in the NBA. Fox ranked just 18th in points per chance among 28 high-volume ball-handlers. If Fox can force teams to defend him above screens, he's close to unguardable.”

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Fox made a substantial jump in production last season, finishing the year averaging 21.1 points and 6.8 assists per game. Those numbers jumped substantially in the bubble, and with the Kings’ intent to push the tempo, he should make another dramatic leap.

Buddy Hield is the only other Kings player to make the top 100. After ranking No. 57 last season, Hield fell to No. 87 coming into this season.

In the grand scheme of things, ESPN’s rankings mean very little, but it’s always interesting to see what a collective group of basketball minds think about the talent level of players.