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Why De'Aaron Fox is the most underrated star guard in the NBA
When talking about the best point guards in the league, you can easily name 10 players off the top of your head. De’Aaron Fox is looking to be involved there. He is still young and he has more room to grow as the lead guard for the Sacramento Kings.
Fox is constantly ignored even when he plays well. He is one of the most dynamic guards in the league because he combines his floor general instincts with insane pace. Fox is considered by many to be the fastest player in the NBA but that is the only factor that casual fans know of the former University of Kentucky guard.
Fox and Tyrese Haliburton form one of the most dynamic backcourts in the league. They are strong on offence because they can trade ball-handling duties but they can also play off the ball. Rese does not have the best-looking jump shot but he has solid percentages when he’s playing as the secondary scorer for Fox.
He plays in a small market
When you watch the NBA, you will have a good sense of market sizes. Los Angeles and New York are the two biggest markets in the league and it is reflected in the media coverage. LeBron James and Julius Randle are always seen on national television because they are the Los Angeles Lakers and the New York Knicks’ biggest stars respectively.
Over the years, NBA fans have been accustomed to these big teams hogging the spotlight. When you have teams like the Portland Trail Blazers, Memphis Grizzlies, and the Kings working hard in the background, their stars are usually ignored.
This can all change with the presence of a big star. The Blazers have Damian Lillard who is a top 75 player of all time. The Grizz has Ja Morant who is one of the most explosive young stars in the league. Their popularity is also affected by the quality of the supporting cast.
The Kings have struggled with this because, after Fox and Rese, they are not the strongest of teams. They are filled with players who struggled on other teams and they’ve landed with the Kings. The team has had the longest playoff drought in the league as they’ve missed the postseason for 15 straight years.
He suffers under the stereotypes of a non-shooter
Fox has a solid skill set but he does have a weakness. His lack of consistent perimeter shooting is an issue because most teams leave him open. He has improved over the years but he is still inconsistent. It’s difficult to say that he can improve given that this has been a long-standing issue.
There have been some successful players over the years who have struggled to shoot like Russell Westbrook and Giannis Antetokounmpo but they have always been surrounded by players who can shoot. With Fox’s immense responsibility, he struggles to be the Kings’ biggest star when they need a jump shot. Most stars are three-level scorers in the paint, mid-range and beyond the arc respectively. For this, Fox is only elite on the first two levels.
Of course, he is not a terrible shooter because his numbers are mediocre at best. He is more inclined to drive to the paint because he is an elite athlete and he can get past any defender that is put in front of him.
Playing for the Kings harms his value
The Kings are notorious underperformers because they have been in a playoff drought for almost two decades. While Fox has been excellent ever since he joined the Kings in the 2017 Draft, the front office has struggled to surround him with talent. The Kings front office has been hilariously bad for a long time and Fox and Rese might be the only good draft picks they’ve made over the years.
Richaun Holmes was a solid signing but he does not move the needle for success. These incremental moves have left the Kings in a bad state because they are always on the cusp of success but they always fail since Fox is the only reliable star. Rese was just drafted back in 2020 but he has already made a huge impact as the Kings are fighting for playoff spots ever since he arrived.
In terms of individual success, Fox is always a reliable star who can score and create for his teammates. His only weakness will have to be his shooting and he has some defensive lapses at times. Despite his strengths, Fox is always overshadowed by the other top guards in the Western Conference. Let’s dive into what makes other guards stand out more than Fox.
The West is filled with supremely talented guards
Since Fox is playing for the Kings, he is lost in the shuffle because of the abundance of star guards in the West. When talking about guard play, you can always point out bigger stars compared to Fox. Dame and Russ were already named before but you also have to talk about Chris Paul and the consensus best guard in the league, Stephen Curry.
All of these players are better than Fox and they have overshadowed him over the past few years. While Fox can keep up with all of these players, he still struggles to draw attention because all of these stars are tantalizing.
Those stars are a tier above Fox and that should not be a detriment to his skills. Fox is still young and he will improve as time goes on. The Kings have a promising future with Fox and Rese as their centrepieces. The Kings front office needs to realize that the West is a competitive conference and they need to build around their star who wants to stay in the city.
It has been a well-known story that big markets scoop up frustrated star players. While Fox is not at his breaking point just yet, the Kings need to make a move so that their star will be satisfied and stay with the team for the foreseeable future.
Words: Cholo Martin