Kings' De'Aaron Fox shows glimpses of superstar potential vs. Rockets

Kings' De'Aaron Fox shows glimpses of superstar potential vs. Rockets

SACRAMENTO -- There is no question that the Sacramento Kings consider De’Aaron Fox the head of the snake. He is the engine that makes it all run and without him, the Kings were forced to change their entire style of play.

With the 22-year-old point guard healthy and getting back into game shape, you can see the outlines of the star player the Kings believed they landed when they selected Fox with the No. 5 overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft.

In the team’s 113-104 loss to the Houston Rockets, Fox spent the first half of the game making plays for others. With so many mouths to feed, he often has to put his own offense on hold.

“Early in games, I try to get everyone involved, get everyone touches, if somebody’s hot, keep feeding them,” Fox said. “At the same time, still try to get to the basket, still try to create for myself at the same time. There’s always a fine line in that and I think I’m still learning it.”

Once he had a few players going, Fox turned on the jets and helped his team climb back in the game late. He dominated the action in the fourth quarter, scoring 19 of his career-high-tying 31 points in the final 12 minutes as the Kings outscored Houston 25-16 in the frame.

On the defensive end, Fox gave both James Harden and Russell Westbrook fits late in the game. He was active, forcing Harden into an over-and-back call and Westbrook into 1-of-5 shooting from the field in the fourth.

“You have to get stops, especially playing against a team like that,” Fox added.

In just his fourth game back from a 17-game absence due to a severely sprained left ankle, Fox was able to play 36 minutes. It was also the third game in four nights for the Kings, with the team flying home from Memphis on the only off-day.

“When he was hurt, he didn’t travel a lot with us because of the amount of travel and treatment at home, but he was in that weight room every day, he got stronger,” coach Luke Walton said. “He was watching all the games, he was watching edits. I’m sure, knowing De’Aaron and knowing how he sees the game and how intelligent of a player he is, I’m sure he saw some of how we were playing and how that impacted the difference between winning and losing.”

Fox is still working to get completely back in basketball shape, but there is no question that he’s getting close. His acceleration is back and he has instantly improved the pace of the Kings’ offense.

It wasn’t a perfect night for the Kings’ lead guard. His team lost by nine and he shot just 4-of-9 from the free throw line, with all five misses coming in the fourth quarter.

In his four games since returning, Fox is averaging 20.0 points and 6.0 assists per contest. The Kings are winless since his return, but they have a long stretch of games at home coming up.

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The team plays nine of the next 11 games at Golden 1 Center and the Kings will have plenty of practice time to try and integrate returning players back into the system.

If the Kings have any hopes of turning around their season, getting Fox back to full strength is a must. So far, he looks like a difference-maker for Sacramento, but he has to find a way to lead the team to victories.

Kings players provide meals to locals in need amid coronavirus pandemic

Kings players provide meals to locals in need amid coronavirus pandemic

The Kings are getting involved.

It started with a 5,000-pound food donation in the early stages of the coronavirus outbreak, but the team is stepping up to help both the local community and abroad.

Late last week the Kings offered up Arco Arena as a surge hospital and it is currently being transformed by the Army Corps of Engineers into a 400-bed facility. On Tuesday, we learned that Bogdan Bogdan, Nemanja Bjelica and Ana and Vlade Divac are sending aid to Serbia, including ventilators, masks and other medical supplies.

Bogdanovic is now joining Richaun Holmes, De’Aaron Fox and Harrison Barnes in a new local venture, where the players are partnering to support local eateries while supplying over 1,000 meals to families in the Sacramento area.

“Since coming to Sacramento I have experienced firsthand how our community is truly one big family, so my teammates and I are committed to looking out for those in need and lending a helping hand,” Holmes, who initiated the plan, said via press release. “I am very thankful for my teammates in joining me to help bring smiles to others and get through this time together.”

The quartet of players are working with non-profits Juma Ventures and City Year, as well as Buckhorn Grill, Chicago Fire, Fixins Soul Kitchen and Jimboy’s Tacos, who will deliver food to those in need.

[RELATED: Kings' Bogdan Bogdanovic shooting on neighbor's hoop during NBA shutdown]

“Sacramento is a huge part of my life and my career,” Bogdanovic told NBC Sports California when reached for comment. “We all said, ‘we have to give back to our community.’ We’re trying to help as much as we can. There are all of these people, most of who are fans, who are helping us during our games. Now it’s our time to help them”

The group has gone through local non-profits to find those in need and will have food delivered in the coming days. 

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Kings' Bogdan Bogdanovic shooting on neighbor's hoop during NBA shutdown

Kings' Bogdan Bogdanovic shooting on neighbor's hoop during NBA shutdown

Every player in the NBA is different when it comes to their workout routine. Some players like to live in the weight room. Others use their key cards to show up at all hours of the day to get shots up.

Bogdan Bogdanovic is known for his incredible work ethic and his need to be in the gym shooting, but like everyone else, he’s locked out of the practice facility. 

Without a state of the art facility to work in, Bogdanovic has purchased equipment for his garage and turned to an interesting option to get his shots up.

“I have a little basket hoop from my neighbors, sometimes I’m shooting over there,” Bogdanovic said during the special edition of the Purple Talk podcast. “I ordered one, but it will come in two months or something.”

Once a hoop arrives, it will be in a box. Does the Serbian sharpshooter own a socket set? Can he make it through a complex “exploded view” diagram as he assembles a hoop on his own? 

[RELATED: Kings' Vlade Divac, Bogdan Bogdanovic send coronavirus aid to Serbia]

These are questions that we will have that will have to wait until the NBA’s mandated shutdown ends. Until then, we must assume that Bogdanovic is putting in work on his neighbor's water-based, roll around hoop that he can lower if he feels like trying a 360 dunk. Or maybe he’s installed a nerf hoop in his living room to keep fresh.

The coronavirus has caught all of us off guard. Bogdanovic, like everyone else, will need to adapt if he hopes to overcome. Or the team's most versatile player could just sign his extension offer from the Kings and go out and purchase a home with a built-in court. 

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