The Kings are struggling in the bubble. They’ve played competitive basketball in two of the first three games, but they’ve yet to come away with a win.
While the team as a whole is underperforming, the play of point guard De’Aaron Fox has stood out as one of the major bright spots.
In the three games since the restart, Fox is averaging 26.7 points and six assists per game. He struggled from the 3-point line, knocking down just 3-of-15 from long range, but outside of that deficiency, he’s been really good for Sacramento.
[PURPLE TALK PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]
“I think it goes back to his play before the stoppage of play, the regular season, not the bubble,” coach Luke Walton said on the latest edition of the Purple Talk podcast. “I really thought he was making some solid progress.”
Beginning in January, Fox started to take his game to another level. From the beginning of January to when the season was put on pause, Fox averaged 22.3 points, 6.8 assists and shot 48 percent from the floor over a 29 game stretch.
The jump in scoring was a welcome sight, but his overall improvement as a floor general also stood out.
“He was doing a really nice job of picking and choosing when to get teammates involved and when it’s time for him to score,” Walton said. “I think that’s going to be a huge step in his evolution as well.”
In order for the Kings to take another step forward in their development as a team, they need Fox to continue to expand his game. At 22-years-old, it appears that we are just starting to see the player he will become.
“When he keeps the defense honest -- shooting shots and taking it to the rim, which we want him to continue to do, we want him to continue to work on that part of his game, but then also, as he continues to realize that when he gets to that paint, defenses collapse and he can start picking apart and picking which shooters he wants to get shots, I think that’s going to raise his game even more and raise our team,” Walton said.
Fox’s assist numbers are down slightly in the bubble, but it likely has more to do with his teammates struggling to knock down shots. The Kings are a work in progress, but Fox’s play has stood out.
“I definitely feel confident that we’re seeing what kind of player we’re going to have here as the future plays out,” Walton added.
A team resurgence in the final five games of the restart would be great, but the chances of stealing a playoff spot are slim at this point. If there is a silver lining to the bubble experience it is that Fox is taking another step forward in his development. That should pay a huge dividend down the road.