Kings general manager Vlade Divac was asked after the 2017-18 season a very specific question about leadership and who would take over the team with players such as George Hill and Garrett Temple gone or on their way out.
Divac made the following succinct statement: “They can’t be young players forever.”
Divac had a point. At some point, players mature, and leaders either rise to the top or they don’t.
For the Kings, they are going to rely heavily on a 21-year-old point guard to take them to the next level.
For the Kings to ascend to where they want to be, De’Aaron Fox has to take another step forward in his leadership, which he laid the groundwork for in his sophomore season.
Fox discussed his thoughts on leadership during the latest edition of the "Road Trippin’" Kings podcast with Doug Christie, Corey Brewer and Harrison Barnes.
“As a leader, just being able to hold everybody accountable,” Fox explained to the group. “Everyone always says, those best teams always had confrontation. Players were always conflicting at some point. Everybody can’t get along, and everything be fine and dandy and y’all winning games. That’s just not how things happen.”
In the discussion, Fox sighted Chris Paul as a player he believes thrives on conflict. The Houston Rockets star holds his teammates accountable on the court, regardless of who they are and what their stature with the team might be.
It’s a style Fox hopes to implement into how he deals with conflict and accountability with his Kings teammates.
“We have to be able to conflict and have to fight each other and be able to set that stuff aside and not take things personal,” Fox said. “I think that’s a problem with a lot of young groups and young people in general. Someone says something to them, and the next thing it is, they’re going to pop off, like it’s cool to get mad if someone says something to you.”
During the previous edition of the Road Trippin’ pod, Fox and Buddy Hield had a similar discussion. Hield was very clear: For the Kings to take the next step, they need more of Fox and his voice.
It’s interesting to hear Fox lay out his leadership ideas. From the moment he walked into the gym last summer, players and coaches were talking about his change in demeanor. They raved about the work he had put in both on the court and in the weight room, but there was something different about the young guard out of the University of Kentucky.
“I think that’s definitely as a young group and as a young guy trying to be a leader that I have to step up and do,” Fox said. “People don’t want to conflict, people don’t want to fight with their teammates, but I think if you’re able to do that and overcome it? I think that makes you better.”
Going into his third season, Fox clearly is the Kings' de facto leader on the court. He’ll have players such as Barnes and Hield surrounding him to help with the process, but the player who has the ball in his hands is the one you need running the show.
With the Kings still sporting a young squad, it will be interesting to see how Fox’s personality is received and how he grows into the leadership role.
Listen to Fox, Christie, Brewer and Barnes on the latest Road Trippin' podcast in the player below, and subscribe here.