SACRAMENTO -- In the first week of February, the Kings were rolling. They won four straight games, and with the victories came individual accolades.
De’Aaron Fox picked up his first Western Conference Player of the Week during that stretch and it felt like it might be the first of many for the Kings’ young point guard. And then Sacramento lost nine straight games and any positive vibe surrounding the team was quickly extinguished.
The team has circled the drain and fallen towards the bottom of the standings, but Fox has quietly continued to build on his season.
In the Kings’ 125-105 win over the Houston Rockets on Thursday night, the 23-year-old dropped in 30 points, with nine assists, seven rebounds and two steals. It was his seventh game with 30 or more points this season and his fifteenth game this season with nine or more assists.
Fox fought through bumps and bruises in the first half, missing just one out of the team’s 36 games. By the time Sacramento hit the break, he was clearly taxed, both mentally and physically.
In his first game back, you could tell he was refreshed and ready for what lies ahead.
“He came in and wanted to lead us and make sure we got off to a good start,” Richaun Holmes said. “You can tell he feels good, bounce in his step, things of that sort. We go as he goes. He’s the head of our snake.”
This wasn’t just a good game against a really bad Rockets team. Fox is routinely putting up huge numbers in his fourth season in the NBA.
Over his last 20 games, Fox is averaging 25 points and 8.9 assists in 36.7 per game. Those are elite numbers, especially the assist totals, and the fact that he’s producing at this level for a long stretch is encouraging.
“The number is pretty legit right now with where he’s at assist wise, but just his full understanding and ability to get anyone on his team a shot when he knows they need it, I think is where he is just starting to scratch that,” coach Luke Walton said.
Fox’s 7.6 assists per game on the season are good enough to rank 12th in the league, but the 8.9 number over his last 20 games would put him fourth overall, just ahead of 11-time NBA All-Star and future Hall of Fame point guard Chris Paul.
“It’s a process like everything else,” Walton said. “I think that’s one of the places he’s made some nice growth so far this season in. I still think he’s just scratching the surface of where he can get with that, just as far as his ability to collapse defenses.”
It does feel like Fox is just starting to understand how good he can be. There are moments that he reaches down and finds a different gear. His footwork, speed and quickness make him nearly unstoppable when he gets in takeover mode.
Of course, grabbing a section of games is not how stats are compiled in the NBA. But while the Kings are fading, Fox is once again taking a leap forward. He has another 35 games to show that this is who he is moving forward.
“In this league, one of the hardest things to do is be consistent,” Fox said. “You’ll see a guy have a great week or month and it kinda doesn’t happen again. That’s one thing in this league that’s hard. For me to continue to try to do that is definitely a point of emphasis.”
Fox’s task is to continue on this path while finding a way to drag his teammates along with him and start picking up more victories. As he gets more comfortable with the player he is becoming, he has to continue to focus on making everyone around him better.
Hollow stats on a non-playoff team only mean so much, but Fox is proving that he is a star in the making. He needs to keep developing, but the Kings can help him by going out and improving the overall talent around him.