The Kings fell in love with point guard De’Aaron Fox prior to the 2017 NBA Draft. He was their target early on, and there wasn’t even a question in their mind when he fell to the fifth overall selection.
For Fox, the feeling was mutual. Sacramento was where he wanted to land. He was open about that before the draft and continues to confirm his commitment to the city and the fans to this day.
The 20-year-old speedster has quickly made a home for himself and in Thursday's he had a breakout moment.
Against the Hawks, Fox became the youngest player in NBA history to post a 30-point, 15-assist, 10-rebound triple-double, and only the second player in league history (LeBron James ... twice) to post a 30-point triple-double before their 21st birthday.
Initially, it didn’t appear that Fox’s night would be that special. He had matched his career-high in assists with 10 before the half, but he had just seven points going to the break.
In the third quarter, Fox went off, scoring 21 of his career-high 31. He went 6-for-6 in the quarter, including three 3-pointers. With the game out of hand, it looked like his night was done, but the bench unit struggled to start the fourth.
Needing just a pair of rebounds to lock in the triple-double, Fox re-entered the game and went to work. And yes, he knew his stat line when he stepped back out on the floor.
“Usually I don’t go for rebounds like that, usually I only rebound is when I see my bigs need help and most of the time I let my bigs get the rebound,” a smiling Fox told the broadcast team of Grant Napear and Doug Christie following the game. “But with that one, I was like, I’m the most athletic guy on the floor, so I’m going to go get those two.”
The word ‘identity’ has become a tagline for the young teams. A year ago, they didn’t really know how to describe the team’s brand of basketball. They do now, just nine games into the 2018-19 season.
“I think last year, the difference was we didn’t have an identity, we didn’t know how we wanted to play, we didn’t know what we wanted to do,” Fox told reporters following the win in Atlanta. “And this year, we know we’re trying to run, we’re trying to get the ball up and down the court and we’re trying to get as many possessions as possible. If that surprises you, then that’s you.”
Fox and his teammates have come out with a fire and they are running teams off the court. They entered Friday ranked fourth in points per game on the season, scoring 119.8 per contest. They also rank third in total rebounds, assists, steals and 3-point percentage.
The Kings are an offensive juggernaut early in the season, but their defense is also starting to improve. They currently rank 14th in the league in defensive rating per NBA.com, which is something Fox is focused on.
“I want to make an all-defensive team and I want to lead the league in steals,” Fox said Thursday. “That’s one thing I really put on my agenda this year. I know it’s tough, I know there’s a lot of great defenders in the league, but I feel it’s something I can do.”
Against the Hawks, Fox helped hold rookie Trae Young to 14 points in 27 minutes. He also forced Young into plenty of mistakes, leading the former Oklahoma star into eight turnovers on the evening.
It’s early, but Fox is clearly improved in his sophomore season. He’s posting 19 points, 7.8 assists, 4.6 rebounds and 1.4 steals in 32.6 minutes per game. He’s also the leader of a young Kings team that is shocking the NBA with each and every unexpected win.