Sabonis explains selfless bond with Fox ‘since the jump'

  • Programming note: Kyle Draper's "Kings Central" interview with Domantas Sabonis will debut Wednesday at 10:30 p.m., after "Kings Postgame Live," on NBC Sports California. 

The Kings' dynamic duo of De'Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis has put up All-Star numbers this season, with the former routinely taking over the fourth quarter and the latter posting historic stat lines almost every game. 

And while Kings fans might deduce that the pairing's chemistry took time to coalesce, Sabonis says otherwise. 

"Fox has been great from the jump," the Kings center told NBC Sports California's Kyle Draper on the most recent episode of "Kings Central." "Me and him have a great relationship on the court and off the court, and I feel like we read each other well."

The 26-year-old added that he knows what Fox "likes" in terms of how to attack the defense and initiate the offense.

As a sign of the symbiotic relationship between the two, Sabonis makes it a point to stay out of the way during crunch time because he knows it's Fox's time to shine -- a message he has reiterated in the past

"I know the fourth quarter's his, going to leave it to him, his clutch time, got to get him open, and he just lets me do my thing throughout the game," a gleeful Sabonis told Draper. 

"So far, it's been great for us, it's been working. Obviously, there's a lot to improve like every other team, but it's been a great year so far."

A big reason why the Sabonis-Fox tandem has been so successful this season is the 7-foot-1 center's ability to set screens. Fox even told Draper that Sabonis was the "best screener he's ever played with." 

When asked by Draper if there is "an art" to setting a screen, Sabonis said "there definitely is," depending on the player getting one.

"I know with Fox, there's different ways," Sabonis continued. "Sometimes I go a bit under, sometimes I set it lower. I try to hold the screen more just to give him more room so he can decide on what he wants to do."

Sabonis also gave the example of how he sets screens for Malik Monk, Kevin Huerter and rookie Keegan Murray. With Monk, Sabonis often sets the screen and quickly rolls because the 24-year-old guard likes to pass quickly. 

As for Huerter and Murray, Sabonis' goal is to get them open so he might hold the screen longer to get the defender stuck, allowing the shooter to have extra time to line up the shot. 

"So there's different little things for each player," Sabonis added. "But with Fox, like I said, the fourth quarter my job is to get him open and let him the right reads."

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So far, it appears Sabonis and Fox's pairing is working like the Kings' front office expected it to, with the duo leading a resurgent Sacramento squad into the thick of the Western Conference playoff picture. 

And it all started with Fox and Sabonis' chemistry.

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