Position: Point Guard
PPG: 16.7 RPG: 4.0 APG: 4.6 SPG: 1.5 BPG: 0.2 FG%: 47.9 3PT%: 24.6 FT%: 73.6
The strengths of De’Aaron Fox start with his blazing speed. He will immediately be one of, if not the fastest player in the NBA from the moment he steps on the floor and he uses that speed to his advantage in a number of ways, but most effectively in transition.
Fox is a terror on the fast break, routinely beating everyone up the floor for easy baskets or setting up his teammates with great passes. His speed also is a factor in the halfcourt as he is able to get to the rim regularly despite the defense playing off of him. He is a better than average finisher at the rim thanks to his size and great athleticism and handles contact better than expected.
While he doesn’t have the elite-level court vision of someone like a Lonzo Ball, he is a more than capable playmaker who understands the attention he attracts when he gets in the paint and looks to set up his teammates.
On defense, he uses his length and speed to hound opposing guards relentlessly. He has active hands and good instincts on that end of the floor which allow him to create turnovers both on and off the ball. Though his focus wanes sometimes, he has all the makings of a great defender at the next level.
Arguably most importantly, Fox is a competitor and passionate player. He got better as the season went on, saving some of his best games for the SEC and NCAA Tournaments including his 39-point evisceration of Ball in the Sweet 16. The emotions he showed after Kentucky’s heartbreaking loss to North Carolina in the Elite 8 was proof of how important winning is to him, and those are intangibles you can’t teach.
The obvious glaring weakness for Fox is his lack of a jump shot. He shot only 24.6 percent from three-point range, and teams were more than content to play off him and pack the paint to prevent him from getting to the rim. His shooting numbers did improve as the year went on, and he shot a respectable 73.6 percent from the free throw line which is a more effective barometer for future shooting. His ability to improve his jumper will likely be the key to how good he can be in the NBA.
He does still need to improve on his decision-making as he can be turnover prone at times. This mainly comes in the halfcourt as he will drive wildly into a packed paint because of the lack of confidence in his jumper.
While he is stronger than he looks considering his thin frame, Fox will still need to add to his frame as he can be bumped around on offense. This also comes into play on defense as there are worries about him defending bigger guards. He has also shown some struggles getting through screens.
As seems to always be the case with lefties for some reason, Fox is very reliant on his dominant hand and could stand to improve his right-hand especially when it comes to attacking and finishing.
Player Comp: T.J. Ford
His career was severely shortened due to a terrible spinal injury, but T.J. Ford had the makings of a high-level point guard and won the Naismith College Player of the Year Award in 2003. Ford was never a great outside shooter but was lightning-quick, an excellent passer and playmaker, hard-nosed defender, and true leader on the floor.
Fox is taller than Ford, but he has the capabilities to do the same as a terror in the open floor and nightmare on defense. His quickness is at an elite level, and he should be able to get in the paint at will from day one while hounding the opposition on the other end of the floor.
If he can improve his jumper to a respectable level, a best case scenario would be someone like John Wall, although Wall has a stronger frame. Ford showed flashes early on of what he could’ve become (14.0 ppg, 7.1 apg in 2007) and Fox could easily resemble the finished product of his early years as long as he works on his shortcomings.
Fit With the Lakers
With Luke Walton bringing over a system similar to that of the Golden State Warriors, some may believe that a non-shooting point guard would be a rough fit. On the contrary, guys like Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston have both flourished in this system, and Fox could certainly do the same.
D’Angelo Russell has shown that he can work off the ball and their two games compliment each other as Fox’s speed and athleticism pair well with Russell’s shooting, passing and basketball IQ. Furthermore, Fox would immediately become the Lakers’ best backcourt defender and take on the task of guarding the opposition’s best guard, something Russell hasn’t shown at this stage.
Walton wants the Lakers to defend and get out in transition and Fox certainly checks both of those boxes. His shooting is a concern, but if surrounded by the right guys it lessens the impact. There are some concerns, but the positives far outweigh them with everything Fox would bring to the franchise.