The Sacramento Kings started their season 2-1 after beating the LA Lakers in an overtime thriller in their third game of the season. Even though they eventually got the victory, the Kings paid a price because De’Aaron Fox suffered a moderate ankle sprain that took him out for a few weeks.
The Kings floundered at first without him, losing a nail-biter against the Golden State Warriors that was won by a Klay Thompson jumper with 0.2 seconds left on the clock. Then, warning bells began to echo out within Kings fandom after they dropped two-straight games against the Houston Rockets which were complete blowouts.
The Kings have righted the ship since then, having won three in a row with Fox returning in the third win to drop 28 points and six assists against the Cleveland Cavaliers. Fox couldn’t have come back at a better time, either.
Fox’s return inspired his team and they suddenly played like the Kings of last season, who were the league’s best offense and one of the best offensive teams in NBA history. His co-star Domantas Sabonis narrowly missed a triple-double with 23-points, nine rebounds and 10 assists while shooting 8 of 10 from the field.
Keegan Murray, who had struggled with his shot this season, had an efficient 25 points and eight rebounds while shooting 9 of 13 overall and 5 of 8 from deep. Kevin Huerter similarly shook off the rust on the way to 20 points and a 6 of 9 performance from beyond the arc.
Mike Brown, who said that everyone on the team except for Fox and Sabonis must earn their rotation spots, has stayed true to his word. Sasha Vezenkov, the former Euroleague MVP who joined the Kings this season, has seen a bit more burn during their current winning streak.
Davion Mitchell will probably be salty that he was the only player on the roster not to play against Cleveland, but he’ll have plenty of other chances to play.
Look, the Kings aren’t going to shoot 59% from the field and 47.6% from three every day, but it’s clear how much Fox changes the offense. The threat of his slashing and his midrange jumper gives people like Murray and Huerter so much more space to operate. The NBA’s a better place when entertaining teams are at full strength, and the Kings will get to see if they can take another game from the Lakers next.