It’s Nov. 1 and the Sacramento Kings have six wins. You would have been forgiven for expecting the Kings to need until December to reach that total this season.
Expected to again occupy the bottom of the Western Conference before the season, the Kings are now 6-3 after a high-flying 146-115 win over the Atlanta Hawks on Thursday, and they’. Buddy Hield is leading the team with 19.8 points per game and shooting 48.9 percent from 3-point range. Second overall pick Marvin Bagley is playing as well as promised. Willie Cauley-Stein has become a two-way force in the paint.
And at the center of it all, De’Aaron Fox is looking like a budding star, and no more than on Thursday when he gashed the Hawks for a 31-point triple-double.
✅ First career triple-double
Swipa was doing it all 👏 pic.twitter.com/lUyE2lfIhm
— Sacramento Kings (@SacramentoKings) November 2, 2018
What De’Aaron Fox is doing for the Kings
In total, Fox posted 31 points, 15 assists and 10 rebounds, with all three totals marking career-highs for the sophomore. He also posted all of those points on just 13 shots.
The fifth overall pick in the 2017 NBA draft, Fox showed some flashes of promise during his rookie year with 11.6 points and 4.4 assists per game. However, that was largely overshadowed by the prevailing narrative of the hapless Kings, who finished the season 27-55 for the franchise’s worst record since 2012.
That’s not happening so much this year. Fox is now averaging 19 points, 7.8 assists and 4.6 rebounds per game and has pushed the Kings into playing at a completely different speed that very much suits the team’s talent. After ranking last in pace during the 2017-18 season, the Kings currently rank second this season. It’s fairly easy to draw a line between that jump and Fox’s elite speed on the floor.
Part of the reason why the Kings somewhat curiously passed on top prospect Luka Doncic in the draft this offseason was reportedly a fear that adding Doncic could take the ball out of Fox’s hands. Right now, it’s hard not to blame them for putting all their chips on Fox, even if Doncic might have been more complimentary to Fox than the team thought.
De’Aaron Fox enters elite company with triple-double
Suffice to say, triple-doubles from 20-year-olds are rare. How rare? Fox’s one on Thursday was just the third in NBA history, following two from a young LeBron James.
De'Aaron Fox (31 PTS, 10 REB, 15 AST) is the second player in NBA History to record a 30-point triple-double before his 21st birthday. LeBron James did so twice at age 20: 40-10-10 on April 9, 2005 and 36-11-10 on Nov. 19, 2005. @EliasSports pic.twitter.com/lTsfuCFdw7
— NBA.com/Stats (@nbastats) November 2, 2018
Fox’s performance on Thursday becomes even more interesting when you consider just how many points and assists he racked up. In fact, no player Fox’s age or younger has ever posted such a line of 30 points, 15 assists and 10 rebounds.
A couple of guys did it when they were 21. You might have heard of them.
At age 20, De'Aaron Fox (31 PTS, 10 REB, 15AST) is the youngest player in @NBAHistory with 30+PTS, 10+REB, 15+AST in a game.
Two players did so at age 21: Magic Johnson (33 PTS, 15 REB, 17 AST) on March 29, 1981 and Michael Jordan (35 PTS, 14 REB, 15 AST) on Jan. 14, 1985. pic.twitter.com/qMyvexAmtd
— NBA (@NBA) November 2, 2018
Now, De’Aaron Fox is almost certainly not going to be LeBron James, Michael Jordan or Magic Johnson. Those are just fun stats. But the 20-year-old does seem to be developing into something special, and that is something the Kings will happily accept as they try to get a franchise that hasn’t seen the playoffs in more than a decade off the ground.
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