New coaching staff. New players. Same straw that stirs the drink.
The Sacramento Kings built their roster around young star point guard De’Aaron Fox last summer. They added more pieces to support Fox over the last few months, including head coach Luke Walton and his high-octane offense.
While training camp didn’t start until last Saturday, Fox has been in communication with the Kings' coaches and front office all summer. He has the playbook and he’s been studying up for what could be a very competitive season in Sacramento.
“They’ve given me more stuff than everyone else and I’m just trying to soak in all the knowledge that I can as quickly as possible,” Fox told NBC Sports California.
The coaching staff is all-new, but so are the players. Entering his third NBA season, Fox is tied with Bogdan Bogdanovic and Harry Giles for the second-longest tenure on the club. Only Buddy Hield, who joined the Kings in February of 2017, has been with the team longer.
“Everybody is new, there isn’t a single person from my first year that’s still here,” Fox said. “It’s a little bit difficult (to process the new information), you’re trying to take it all in on offense and defense, but it’s something I look forward to. I’m pretty much having fun with it, just going through something new.”
Known for his speed, Fox has worked on improving every facet of his game. He knows how important this season is, not only for himself, but for a franchise that is in the midst of a 13-year playoff drought.
Before coming out for media day festivities, Fox hopped on the scale for his preseason weigh-in. After playing at 176 pounds last season, the 21-year-old point guard looked noticeably bigger, which the scale confirmed.
According to Fox, he stacked on 10 pounds, tipping the scale at 186 pounds coming into camp, which is around where he would like to play this season.
“Right now it’s all about just trying to sustain it,” Fox said of his weight gain. “Eating well, making sure that I’m eating enough because of how much practice time and all the games we play. With our strength guys and the nutrition factor, we definitely have a plan for it.”
Fox averaged 17.3 points, 7.3 assists and 3.8 rebounds in 31.4 minutes per game last season with the Kings and he’s hoping for another tremendous jump both individually and as a team.
It’s likely he sees an uptick in minutes and if his offseason workouts yield even close to what they did a year ago, he should see another substantial jump in numbers.
In addition to working out over the offseason with his trainer and agent, Chris Gaston, Fox took part in Team USA festivities in both Las Vegas and Los Angeles over the summer.
He spent two weeks playing with some of the best players in the league and learning from coaching legends Gregg Popovich and Steve Kerr.
“I definitely learned how to play with other good players,” Fox said of what he took away from the Team USA experience. “Just everything. Not wasting any movements because everyone on the court is a very good player. You’ve got to be efficient in everything you do and that’s one of the things I learned when I was there.”
Fox still isn’t interested in talking about why he left the national team before they shipped out to Australia and then China for the FIBA World Cup. He may never divulge that information.
In the end, it shouldn’t matter. Playing for the national program, while an honor, is voluntary. Fox’s commitment is to the Kings, which he has made abundantly clear.
Sacramento has added depth and talent around Fox. He’s done the work to take another step forward in his progression. The quicker he reaches his full potential, the better it is for the Kings.