De'Aaron Fox was named the NBA's Clutch Player of the Year on Tuesday.
The Sacramento Kings All-Star beat out fellow finalists Chicago Bulls forward DeMar DeRozan and Miami Heat forward Jimmy Butler for the honor as the first-ever winner of the award. The creation of the award was announced as the NBA's seventh individual season-long honor alongside Most Valuable Player, Defensive Player of the Year, Rookie of the Year, Sixth Man of the Year, Most Improved Player of the Year and Coach of the Year.
The award was voted on alongside the rest of the league's individual awards by a panel of 100 media members. Fox dominated the ballot with 91 first-place votes. The NBA defines a clutch player as the "player that delivers most when the game is on the line." Per the league, "clutch time" is defined as the final five minutes of the fourth quarter or overtime when the score is within 5 points."
De'Aaron Fox made strong case with historically 'clutch' season
Fox fits the bill. The Kings guard led the league with 194 points in "clutch time." DeRozan was second with 159, while Butler was third with 151. Per the NBA, the three finalists "played nearly identical clutch minutes."
Breaking down "clutch time" even further, Fox led the league with 103 points in the final three minutes of 3-point games, ahead of DeRozan's 82 and Butler's 71. He hit three winning shots during the regular season. Per the NBA, Fox's 1.21 points per clutch minutes played rank eighth in NBA history.
Fox, 25, adds the award to a breakthrough campaign that saw him make his first All-Star team in his fifth NBA season. He's been an effective scorer and playmaker throughout his career, but upped his efficiency this season with career highs in field-goal (51.2%), free-throw (78%) and 3-point (32.4%) percentage. He averaged 25 points, 6.1 assists, 4.2 rebounds and 1.1 steals per game while helping lead the Kings to their first playoff appearance since 2006, snapping the longest postseason drought in major U.S. professional sports.
The Kings earned the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference with a 48-34 record and took a 2-0 series lead over the Golden State Warriors on Monday with a 114-106 win. Fox tallied 24 points, 9 assists, 5 rebounds and 4 steals in the win.