The Sacramento Kings are on pace for a 12th straight lottery finish, but rookie guard De’Aaron Fox sees a bright future for the struggling franchise.
“I see a lot of playoff appearances, conference championships, and hopefully be able to win some championships with this team,” Fox told Basketball Insiders in a video interview.
Somewhere, Jim Mora is screaming, “Playoffs? Don’t talk about playoffs. You kidding me?”
Minnesota holds the record for the longest current playoff drought in the NBA, with 13 straight trips to the lottery. However, the Timberwolves will break that dubious streak this season thanks to the additions of All-Stars Jimmy Butler and Jeff Teague, as well as proven veterans Jamal Crawford and Taj Gibson.
Sacramento tried a similar formula by signing proven veterans Zach Randolph, George Hill, and Vince Carter in the offseason. The Kings also had a strong draft class on paper, with the selections of Fox, Justin Jackson, and Harry Giles during the draft.
However, instead of ending the playoff drought, the Kings currently own the league’s sixth-worst record and appear headed for another lottery finish.
Hill is owed $19 million next season and has a non-guaranteed $18 million salary the following season. Randolph is owed $11.7 million next season, as noted on our team salary page for Sacramento.
Eventually, the fifth overall pick will get the keys to the team and have an opportunity to be the face of the franchise.
On Jan. 6, Fox gave everyone a taste of what’s to come. The 6-foot-3 guard had 18 points, seven assists, three rebounds, and a steal in Sacramento’s 106-98 victory on the road against the Denver Nuggets.
Fox was able to attack and blow by his defender off the dribble and draw fouls at the rim or find open shooters off his penetration. Fox also drained four jumpers around the free throw line area on pick-and-roll sets.
“I just want to be able to win,” Fox told Basketball Insiders. “Things come to individuals when they win, and that’s always been my motto. I just want to be on the court helping my team. If I’m able to win, if my team’s able to win, I’m pretty sure individual accolades will come.”
The 20-year-old point guard led Kentucky to the Elite Eight, scoring 39 points against UCLA. In a headline matchup against Lonzo Ball, Fox rose to the occasion by shooting 13-for-20 from the field and 13-for-15 from the foul line with four assists, three rebounds and two steals in the victory.
Looking ahead, Sacramento believes Fox can lead the Kings to similar success over time and be the face of the franchise like the point guards he grew up watching.
“Around the time I was in middle school, it’s like John Wall first came in, Deron Williams, Chris Paul, and Rajon Rondo was really in his prime then,” Fox told Basketball Insiders. “Those are the guys I really watched when I was much younger.”
Fox has drawn comparisons to Wall because of his athleticism and speed in the open court. Fox will also need to improve his jumper, as Wall did, to eventually become an All-Star.
Off the court, Fox has the charismatic personality to be the face of an organization — dealing with reporters, social media, and being in the spotlight on a daily basis.
“I’m single, so I’ll slide into whoever’s DMs I want to slide in,” Fox told Basketball Insiders when asked about dealing with social media.
If Fox can shoot his jumpers like he shoots his shot in the DM, Sacramento will have its face of the franchise and break its playoff drought sooner than later.
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