De'Aaron Fox has taken sizable steps in his development in each of his first four NBA seasons, and the Kings' star, who added 10 pounds of muscle this summer, is primed for a huge fifth campaign this year.
After averaging 11.6 points as a rookie in 2017-18, Fox led the Kings in scoring (25.2 ppg) last season.
Fox came into the NBA out of Kentucky oozing with potential, but it has taken time for him to hone his skills. He had the speed as a rookie, but he has learned to slow the game down. He has improved his shot and aspires to be a great defender.
Before his fifth season tips off on Wednesday, Fox was asked how he feels compared to his first season in the league.
"It feels great," Fox told reporters after practice Saturday, via ABC10's Sean Cunningham. "I feel like, just as a person and as a player, my game has matured a lot. Obviously still working on the defensive side of the ball and still shooting the ball. But I feel like I've come a long way from just coming in and running fast. I feel like I'm a totally different player from then."
Fox now is the leader of the Kings, but he has gotten help in the form of Tyrese Haliburton and 2021 first-round draft pick Davion Mitchell.
The Kings are expected to run a lot of three-guard sets this season with Fox, Haliburton and Mitchell getting some run together. The three young guards have been pushing each other during training camp and the preseason.
At the end of practice Saturday, Fox was tasked with guarding Mitchell on what appears to be a scrimmage-ending possession. Fox played lockdown defense and forced the rookie into a tough, contested shot. When Alex Len grabbed the loose ball, Tristan Thompson blocked it to preserve the win.
"Right now, it's really just getting after each other, cleaning some stuff up, just getting ready for Portland," Fox told reporters. "When you have a few days in between like that in the NBA, coaches take advantage of that and you go after each other in practice, try to get ready for that next game."
The Kings have three more days to work on things before they open the 2021-22 NBA season in Portland against the Trail Blazers on Wednesday night.
If their undefeated preseason and recent practice footage are any indication, Fox and the Kings are ready for a breakout season.