BY: ALEX GOLDEN
Last season after 18-games, the Kings were 5-13. At this point in the season they’re 10-8. There offense was woeful (29th) and their defense (27th) wasn’t much better either. However, this season they’re 11th in Offensive Rating and 16th in Defensive Rating. The turnaround for the Kings has been the talk of the league, and the growth of De’Aaron Fox has been the lead story for the Kings this season.
Point Guard, and 5th overall pick of the 2017 NBA Draft, De’Aaron Fox is leading the Sacramento Kings to one of the best starts this franchise has had in years. Without an opportunity to tank, the Kings are looking to develop their young talent and strengthen they’re chemistry. This season has caught many people by surprise, because nobody expected the Kings to be this competitive. But with an improved De’Aaron Fox leading the way, the Kings are above .500 with a 10-8 record.
Looking deeper into the numbers, De’Aaron Fox has been much better defensively at home. At home, Fox’s defensive rating is a 96.9, but when Fox is on the road, his rating has elevated to 112.4. However, Fox’s Offensive Rating has been poorer at home (105.1), compared to the road (113.0). The biggest contrast here is the Net Rating where Fox is a +8.2 at home only a +0.6 on the Road.
During the Kings hot start, when Fox is most efficient, the Kings win more. During wins, Fox is delivering a +15.2 Net Rating and a -9.5 in losses. If Fox is having a good game, the Kings find themselves on the winning side of most games. His Defensive Rating is 97.0 and 112.2 in Offensive Rating in wins
It is clear that Fox is having such a positive impact on the Kings, but this is also about developing younger talent aside from Fox. The Kings are hopeful that Marvin Bagley III can be that number two star next to Fox, but that hasn’t been the case so far. Bagley III has been dreadful with the Kings best players Fox, Hield and Cauley-Stein. The lineup of Fox, Bagley III, Cauley-Stein and Hield are a woeful -8.5 per 100 possessions. If you swap out Bjelica for Bagley III, the Kings are a +9.5 per 100 possessions.
Let’s not overlook the great start Willie Cauley-Stein has had either. The Kings are out scoring opponents by 8.4 points per 100 possessions when Cauley-Stein is on the floor. When he is off the floor, the Kings are being outscored by 15 points per 100 possessions. That’s a Net Rating swing of 23.4. If you read my latest Power Rankings, I gave high praise to Cauley-Stein’s play for the Kings success in addition to how Fox has impacted the Kings in a mighty way.
Recently, there was rumors that coach Joerger and Sacramento’s Front Office were having issues. This is an unfortunate situation, because the Kings have been playing much better. With Fox and Hield starting to play better, you’d like to see the Front Office and Joerger work our the details because the Kings have been the laughing stock of the Western Conference the last decade.
Lastly, the Kings, statistically, are starting to come back to Earth from October to November. It doesn’t appear that this hot start will be sustainable, but the Western Conference has been wide open thus far. I am enjoying Fox’s growth and he hasn’t even reached his full potential yet.