The Denver Nuggets may have emerged as the NBA champions in the 2022-2023 season, but it’s the Sacramento Kings that won everyone’s hearts.
As a perennial cellar dweller for nearly two decades, it was tough to expect much from the Kings, especially when hindsight reveals missed draft picks and a tough environment for a coach to build a culture with.
This past season, though, was a different story, as the Kings made their first postseason appearance and had their first winning record since the 2005-2006 season. Nevermind that they got booted out in the first round of the 2023 NBA Playoffs; Sacramento and the Golden State Warriors gave us arguably the best postseason series this past year.
There was a lot that led to that successful run, but all of it began with De’Aaron Fox.
The Kings drafting Fox in the 2017 NBA Draft with the fifth overall selection may have been the first domino to fall. Sacramento’s search for a star guard after Tyreke Evans was a long and perilous one, as they passed on Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, Zach Lavine, and Devin Booker, among others. They selected Isaiah Thomas in 2011, but let him go, and also missed out on Luka Doncic, who would have been a fine backcourt partner for Fox.
Through the losses and disappointments, Fox remained and continued to improve. If anything, he was one of the few, if not the lone bright spot during the trying moments. Eventually, the 2023 NBA All-Star evolved from being a guard whose game was predicated on speed to being the most dangerous player on the court when crunchtime came.
The wins of course followed, and when the Kings finally built their roster to tailor to Fox’s skills, everything fell into place for Sacramento. Through tough times, a number of Kings fans stuck with their team, and they were rightly rewarded with the results churned out by Fox and co.
Sacramento’s success is well-documented, and while the same can be said for Fox’s he was having the best season of his career. Sure, his per-game averages of 25.0 points, 6.1 assists, and 1.1 steals weren’t career-highs, but he got these numbers at a more efficient rate (51.2/32.4/78.0 shooting splits and 2.5 turnovers per game, his lowest since his rookie year) and in 73 games, his most since the 2018-2019 season.
It’s great to see Fox has brought success to the Kings after quite some time, and while he can continue to do that in the coming years, this particular season presents an opportunity to change his life even more.
As a member of the 2023 All-NBA Third-Team, Fox is one more All-NBA selection, Defensive Player of the Year, or MVP award away from being eligible for the supermax extension, which would earn him 35 percent of his salary cap. Not only will that catapult him to among the highest-paid players in the league, but it will also set him and his family for life.
Putting up great numbers is the easy part; Fox will have to convince voters that he is among the league’s best guards in a loaded Western Conference. He has the talent and the supporting cast to make a case for this and health be willing, all he has to do is ball out as he has done for nearly a decade.
The Sacramento Kings’ 2023-2024 campaign will again be quite the story to follow, but De’Aaron Fox’s journey through that season will be interesting to keep watch of. Fox has never been one to turn down a challenge, as he persevered through the dark times in Sacramento and who’s to say he’ll stop now when his aspirations are within grasp?