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Kings' Fox, Haliburton earn place amongst best young players

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The backcourt tandem of De’Aaron Fox and Tyrese Haliburton are turning heads. The pair even showed up on ESPN’s list of the “NBA’s best 25 under 25” earlier this week.

According to the rankings, Fox is the No. 6 prospect, just behind a pair of fellow 2017 NBA draftees in Donovan Mitchell and Jayson Tatum.

“The game has slowed down for Fox -- he's striking that balance between using his blazing speed and taking what the defense gives him,” writes NBA Draft expert Mike Schmitz.  “According to Second Spectrum data, Fox generates the fifth-most points per chance on drives. He's also posting a 70% effective field goal percentage on shots in the restricted area.”

In this fourth NBA season, Fox is breaking out. The 23-year-old point guard is averaging 24.6 points and 7.1 assists while shooting 47.8 percent from the field and 32.6 percent from long range.

“Once he can get his 3-ball above league average, Fox will be close to unguardable,” Schmitz added.

Haliburton didn’t come in quite as high on the list, but at No. 21, there is only one player from the 2020 NBA Draft ahead of him in LaMelo Ball. 

“If anything, Haliburton has exceeded expectations with his knockdown outside shooting (42% from 3-point range) and ability to create out of the pick-and-roll -- areas that were supposedly concerns,” write Kevin Pelton. “Remarkably, Sacramento's 1.04 points per chance on Haliburton pick-and-rolls rank him in the 80th percentile among ball handlers with at least 250 such plays, according to Second Spectrum tracking.”

 

It took only a game or two for Haliburton to show he belonged at the NBA level. The 21-year-old has a maturity to his game that you rarely see in a rookie and we’re only seeing the tip of the iceberg.

Haliburton is averaging 13.1 points, 5.1 assists and 1.2 steals in 30.3 minutes per game for Sacramento. He stepped into the starting lineup 12 games ago and has made an immediate impact for the Kings and his numbers are steadily on the climb.

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The former Iowa State star has taken home two out of three Western Conference Rookie of the Month awards this season and he is a strong candidate to win the NBA’s Rookie of the Year award with Ball out with a fractured right wrist.

Landing two players on ESPN’s best 25 under 25 list is a good sign for the Kings. It appears they’ve found their backcourt for the foreseeable future. Now they need to build around the pair.