What shocked Domas most about Fox after playing with Westbrook


Before he was the Kings’ star center having a historic season, Domantas Sabonis was an 18-year-old rookie with the Oklahoma City Thunder.  

That 2016-17 season also happened to be former MVP Russell Westbrook’s ninth season with the franchise that drafted him in 2008. Westbrook invited Sabonis to early-morning workouts to run through pick-and-roll drills, then-coach Billy Donovan said. 

The two hit the gym together often to work on many other drills and schemes, and one of Sabonis’ rookie duties was getting Westbrook Snapple juices for team flights, Sabonis recalled. 

OK, fair. Westbrook undoubtedly was the king of that team, helping them reach the postseason and make one NBA Finals appearance for nine of his 11 years in Oklahoma City. 

So when Sabonis arrived in Sacramento via trade last season, he figured it’d be a similar situation with Kings star guard De’Aaron Fox

"I was really surprised," Sabonis told ESPN's Zach Lowe. "He has been with the Kings forever. This is his team. He really let me do my thing. Not many franchise point guards would let their big man bring the ball up. He ran with me. He set screens for me. That's what shocked me most. 

“That's what made the transition so easy. Neither of us care who is who. We just want to win."

To be fair, Sabonis was a rookie in his only season with Westbrook. But after he proved his game over the years and made his mark in the league -- game couldn't help but recognize game. 

"What he does is unique," Fox said. "And I just felt it would help us -- and take pressure off me." 

Well, it certainly has. 

In his first full season with the Kings, the three-time NBA All-Star leads the league in double-doubles and is averaging 19.0 points on an incredible 60.8 percent shooting, 12.5 rebounds and 7.3 assists in 70 games this season. 

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But Sabonis' impact hasn't taken away from what Fox is doing on the floor, too. The first-time All-Star is averaging 25.4 points on 51.6 percent shooting, 4.2 rebounds and 6.1 assists in 65 games. He's the frontrunner for the NBA's new "Clutch Player of the Year" award and currently leads the league in clutch time points. 

The two have not only found a way to coexist, but they're doing it effortlessly and impactfully. The result is the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference and on the brink of leading the Kings to the playoffs for the first time since the 2005-06 season. 

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