When the Sacramento Kings selected De’Aaron Fox with the fifth pick of the 2017 NBA Draft, they did so with the understanding that he would need time to develop. His game has taken leaps and bounds in his first two NBA seasons and a lot of that has to do with his body maturing.
Listed at 6-foot-2 (without shoes) and 169.6 pounds at the NBA combine in May of 2017, Fox has worked hard to get stronger and add weight. Part of that process is eating and eating more and then eating again.
Fox looked fit and noticeably bigger at Team USA camp and according to The Athletic’s Jason Jones, he is up to 183 pounds, which is no small feat for a young player with a wiry frame.
“I try to get 4,000-5,000 calories because I burn through it so fast,” Fox told Jones. “It’s hard man, it’s hard."
At 21-years old, it’s going to take time for Fox to add weight. It’s going to be even tougher to maintain the added bulk through an 82-game schedule.
“For me, the goal for me this year is to play at 180, and continue to grow, continue to grow, continue to grow,” Fox said. “You don’t want to come in at 195, so for us it’s just a process because I don’t want to put on so much weight that I take away my athleticism and my speed.”
Fox is a workout warrior that doesn’t mind mixing in weight training into his basketball regiment. It’s a delicate balance of maintaining his speed and agility while adding enough strength to fight through contact and take a hit at the NBA level.
According to Jones, Chris Gaston, Fox's longtime trainer turned agent, is watching him grow from a “string bean to a grown man.” That is music to the ears of the Kings who are relying on Fox as one of the franchise's cornerstones.
If the glimpses we saw at Team USA are any indication, Fox can take another statistical leap this season just by getting to the free-throw stripe an additional three or four times per game.
The mandate from Gregg Popovich during the national team workouts was for Fox to attack the rim at every opportunity. The first option is for Fox to score, but as the defense collapses, it creates spacing and openings for his teammates.
This is likely the mentality he will carry into the season in Sacramento, but this type of physical play style takes its toll on a player. He'll need the added strength if he is going to spend a lot of time amongst the trees in the painted area.
As Fox grows into his frame, he’ll have to find the balance between adding bulk that he can sustain throughout the year while maintaining his speed and athleticism. This isn't a one or two year process. Expect Fox to continue to redefine his body and game over the next few seasons as he solidifies who he is and what he can be as an NBA player.