It is time to throw away the American inferiority complex with its place in the sport, where many blindly claim that technique should come above all in choosing and developing the best prospects and that the U.S. is not an international power because it cares too much about athleticism.
Far-Fetched Friday: This Is De’Aaron Fox’s Last Season With the Sacramento Kings
By: Khaqan Khan
To recap De'Aaron Fox's career with the Kings, let's start with his rookie year where he played with teammates, seven of whom are no longer in the league. The Kings ended up 27-55. That landed the Kings the second overall pick in the 2018 draft, and instead of picking Luka Doncic, the Kings opted for Marvin Bagley. The General Manager at the time, Vlade Diviac, told fans if that draft decision doesn't pan out in three years, he would step down as GM. Spoiler, it didn't work out, and he stepped down.
Welcome back to Far-Fetched Friday, where every Friday we give you a bold prediction that we believe will come to fruition. This Friday, we look at a Fox's migration from Sacramento.
But the Kings showed some promise that year. The Kings finished 9th in the west going 39-43. King's fans could finally sniff a playoff berth down the horizon. So the Kings fired their head coach Dave Joerger and replaced him with Luke Walton, who, to his credit, got a young Lakers team to play defense. The front office tried to push for the playoffs by loading up with veterans that made no sense. They signed Dwayne Dedmon for 3 years, $40 Million. Cory Joseph for 3 years, $37 million. Then Trevor Ariza for 2 years, $25 million. The Kings finished 31-41. Ariza and Dedmon ended the season on different teams.
Luck finally broke the Kings' way with Tyrese Haliburton falling to them in the draft, and during his rookie season, Haliburton showed signs that he might be a big-time player in the league for years to come. But that was about the only positive that came out of a 31-41 season. That brings us to this year, where they started their off-season by drafting Davion Mitchell, a 6-foot tall 22-year-old point guard at 9th overall despite already having De'Aaron Fox and Tyrese Haliburton.
What are the Kings doing? Either they're onto something with a 3-guard lineup with Fox-Haliburton-Mitchell, or they're anticipating the scenario that they might have to trade De'Aaron Fox. Being that it's the Kings, I'm going to assume it's the latter.
I see the marriage of Fox and the Kings coming to an end after this upcoming season.
It's still early in the off-season, but it's hard to imagine a path where the Kings can become a viable playoff team, especially in the loaded West. They first have to make decisions on three key players. Their starting center Richaun Holmes might leave in free agency. Marvin Bagley is trying everything he can to leave Sacramento. The Kings thought they had a deal to trade Buddy Hield to the Lakers, but it turns out the Lakers were just using the Kings to push the Wizards to send Russell Westbrook to Los Angeles. Pending any big unexpected moves, this roster is destined to be a lottery team.
If I'm De'Aaron Fox, why would I want to stay on this team? This is the least reliable front office in the league.
Time after time, they've committed basketball malpractice. I already mentioned taking Bagley over Doncic. Last off-season, the incompetence was on full display when they botched the sign-and-trade that would have sent Bogdan Bogdanović to the Milwaukee Bucks. The deal fell through after a leak revealed the Kings were not yet authorized to make the transaction, causing both Bogdanovic and the Bucks to feel double-crossed. That led to Bogdanoic balling out for the Atlanta Hawks and the Kings getting nothing in return. If the Kings fail to make the playoffs again for the 15th year in a row, it's pretty safe to assume that Luke Walton gets fired. Would De'Aaron Fox really want to go through another head coach?
However, if I'm the Kings . . . is De'Aaron Fox worth keeping long term? It's a difficult question to answer.
On one hand, talent like his doesn't come along often to Sacramento. On the other hand, are we sure he's good enough to be a top-3 player on a finals team? If not, what's the point of paying him $163 million over the next five years when you can trade him for a more proven star player? As of right now, players like Damian Lillard, Ben Simmons, and Bradley Beal are on the trade bubble to varying degrees. With the way the NBA is going, who knows which players might be available down the line around the trade deadline or the start of the next off-season. The backcourt of Haliburton and Mitchell on paper has the potential to be special, and if it does pan out, that makes Fox even more expandable.
How good Fox is, depends on who you ask.
Some still believe he can be a winning point guard; others are disappointed in the lack of improvement he's shown after a great sophomore campaign. In his first four years in the league and 263 games, Fox is averaging 18 ppg on 45%, shoots the three at 32% while averaging a 3-to-1 assist to turnover ratio. Fox's ppg has improved each season, but besides that, he hasn't shown enough significant improvement that would suggest him getting closer to becoming an all-star caliber player. However, by all accounts, Fox does seem like the type of guy that wants to get better. I just worry his patience is going to be tested to the brink this upcoming season. I also don't put it past the analytics-driven front office of the Kings to trade away their young 'star' if things don't start trending upwards. Let us not forget that the Kings are still the Kings. They always find a way to surprise us with how incompetent they are.
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