How Kings GM McNair views Fox-Mitchell backcourt future


De’Aaron Fox has blossomed into a go-to player for the Kings, but another young point guard could also be assuming a big role in Sacramento moving into next season.

Whoever general manager Monte McNair hires as the new coach will have a decision to make over what to do with Davion Mitchell, the ninth pick in the 2021 NBA Draft who had a nice rookie season with the Kings. Mitchell averaged 11.5 points and 4.2 assists in 75 games last season, filling in to start 19 games when Fox was hurt.

During his season-ending press conference earlier this month, McNair didn’t specify whether Mitchell would start alongside Fox or come off the bench next season – leaving that up to the next coach – but he confirmed that Fox and Mitchell would continue to play together at times.

“I think they’ll play together some and I think it’s certainly great to have – especially in this league – two guards who can create for themselves and others,” McNair said.

Fox averaged 23.2 points and 5.6 assists, but only played in 59 games, which allowed Mitchell more freedom and opportunity to develop as a rookie. In Mitchell’s 19 starts, his stats shot up to 18 points and 7.4 assists a game. In his last 10 games, with Fox hurt, Mitchell averaged at least 20 points and seven assists a game in five straight games.

Related: GM McNair, Fox aligned on Kings' biggest need this offseason

McNair sees Fox and Mitchell being able to play off each other well. Both can pass the ball, and Mitchell’s defensive prowess is an additional asset.

“I think both guys complement each other,” McNair said. “Obviously, both are great with the ball but Davion – we saw defensively – can guard both guard positions. He can get switched onto bigger guys and cause all sorts of problems, and then really at the end of the year, we saw Davion continue to take off. His shooting improved. He just became more comfortable out there as most rookies do.

“They’ll continue to find ways. Foxy can score with me and you out there. So he’s going to find a way to continue to do that.”

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