It’s only preseason. It’s only preseason. It’s only preseason.
This mantra should be heard loud and clear by all fans, but sometimes it isn’t.
Kyle Guy’s game winner? He’s in the rotation.
Hassan Whiteside’s block party? Defensive Player of the Year.
De’Aaron Fox’s 3-point shooting? Clearly, the sky is falling.
Fox’s shooting woes aren’t new, but fixing them always has been the path to the next step in his progression. The lightning-quick point guard can beat just about anyone off the dribble, but he needs to be able to hit the 3-pointer to keep defenses honest.
In Sacramento's four preseason games, Fox struggled mightily from long range, but the Kings aren’t panicking.
“We have a lot of confidence [in Fox],” Richaun Holmes said. “He works on it time in, time out. He’s confident in his shot. We’re confident in him. We want him to keep shooting. We want him to keep the defense honest and it will definitely go down.”
In the Kings’ fourth preseason game, a 113-109 loss to the Warriors, Fox missed all seven of his 3-point attempts. He finished the preseason with just four makes out of 27 attempts, which works out to 14.8 percent.
Fox doesn’t look off-balance and his mechanics are much smoother than what we’ve seen in the past. According to coach Luke Walton, the shot is going in during practice, but it’s not translating to the court yet.
“He was in that gym all summer working on it,” Walton said. “It was getting to a good place in practice and then normally, it’s a natural progression in this league -- you work on something, you work on it and it feels good in practice and then it takes a little more time before clicks into the game.”
Fox made major headway with his 3-point accuracy in his second NBA season, knocking down a solid 37.1 percent in the Kings’ uptempo offense during the 2018-19 season.
Despite posting substantially stronger numbers last season, his 3-point percentage dipped to just 29.2 percent. The Kings can’t really afford for Fox to take another step backwards and they continue to tell him to both push the tempo and continue to fire away.
“We want him to be very aggressive,” Walton added. “Some nights that might be a lot of threes and some nights that might not be any threes at all. We want him being aggressive.”
With Fox’s speed, the defense typically sags off him and help defenders cheat to the middle to clog the lane and limit his ability to penetrate. When he’s hitting his perimeter shot, it forces defenders to go over screens and opens the floor.
It isn’t time to hit the panic button. The entire Kings' roster is struggling in at least one facet of the game, as are their opponents so far.
Sacramento made major roster changes and additions to the coaching staff. The team is still learning the offense, still trying to find chemistry, and spacing has been bad overall -- whether Fox is hitting from behind the arc or not.
The key is that the Kings still have confidence in his ability and they are going to keep telling him to let it fly.
“He believes in it, we believe in it,” Walton said. “So, nothing to be concerned about.”
Sacramento has six days before their first regular-season game to make adjustments. They’ll take Friday off to clear their heads and heal up and then it’s back to work in preparation for what should be a wild 72-game schedule.