This is the final installment of a three-part series breaking down the top five team fits for each of the first round Kentucky prospects. For this installment, I will be evaluating De’Aaron Fox and his top five NBA team fits.
With the NBA Draft a day away teams are finalizing who will be their next franchise player when their pick is on the clock. De’Aaron Fox looks like a top-five pick, Malik Monk will be gone in the top ten, and Bam is inching ever so close to the lottery. The series ends with De’Aaron Fox.
Note: The fits for each prospect only applies to teams that will realistically take each prospect i.e. De’Aaron seems to be a top-five lock, so the only teams that appear are teams with either a top-five selection or the assets to acquire a top five pick.
5) – Orlando Magic
The Orlando Magic have been missing a franchise cornerstone since Dwight Howard forced his way out in 2012. They tried selecting Aaron Gordon and Mario Hezonja to fill his shoes. While they still have a chance to reach their potential, they do not have a sure-fire player.
De’Aaron Fox is the guy that can lead the fastbreak barrage they so desperately need with their current roster. The team would have to move on from Elfid Payton. The tougher task would be moving into the top five picks of the draft. They would likely have to part ways with a future first-round pick and a young prospect. It’s not a stretch they go all-in for Fox.
4) – Boston Celtics
Boston now has the third overall pick in the draft and are likely taking Kansas swingman Josh Jackson at that spot if he is on the board. This exercise isn’t about who Boston is eyeing, but where Fox fits best. While most observers agree Isaiah Thomas is great, there is speculation that Boston will not extend his contract beyond 2017-18. There is also no indication that Boston has completely ruled out the selection of a point guard.
If that is true, selecting De’Aaron could be an 11th-hour decision on draft night. He is an elite athlete that shows tendencies of being a high-IQ point guard. He is also NBA-ready enough to blend in with the current roster within a year or two. A more interesting scenario: Boston trading this selection for Jimmy Butler or Paul George…
3) – Bulls/Pacers
Any trade of those two superstars to Boston would assuredly return the third overall pick to either team. Both teams would essentially have no money on their books by 2019-20 to build around their next franchise star. That guy would be De’Aaron Fox. A lead guard with an elite driving ability and phenomenal athleticism, he would be the easiest prospect to build around for the future of either team.
While Indiana has Myles Turner and all their own draft picks for the foreseeable future, the Bulls have no trouble attracting talented players to come to their team. Whether it is on or off the court, De’Aaron Fox is the type of guy that can be a team’s number one player.
2) – Phoenix Suns
The last two fits are the teams or slots Fox is most likely to go. The top three picks of the draft are likely to fall Markelle Fultz-Lonzo Ball-Josh Jackson. The Suns are apparently enamored with Ball. If that is the case, Fox will be a more than adequate consolation prize. The team has a plethora of former UK guards on their roster, and why wouldn’t they? Yet many people see Eric Bledsoe and Brandon Knight and see a point guard logjam.
The feeling around the NBA is that they will look to move both of those former Wildcats. They both are entering their prime on very affordable contracts. The rest of the Suns’ core pieces are barely of drinking age. Trading Bledsoe and Knight would bring back valuable assets to surround Devin Booker, Dragan Bender, and Marquese Chriss, allowing De’Aaron to step in as the point guard of the blindingly bright future of these young Suns.
1) – Sacramento Kings
Heavy is the head that wears the crown, and De’Aaron Fox would immediately become the King of Sacramento. As many of you reading this know, the Sacramento Kings have been one of the most poorly managed franchises in American sports over the last half-decade. Many fans do not want to see De’Aaron toil away in Sacramento. I envision a brighter future for the team, especially if they are able to draft Fox. The first step was trading away Demarcus Cousins.
Though they didn’t get a great or even good return for him, it was time for both sides to move on. The team can now be built in the design of new ownership. Early rumors suggested the Kings wanted to move up into the top three picks for Fox. They may just have to hope Phoenix doesn’t take him. Why this team is the best fit for Fox is the immediate opportunity to play as well as the talent he would be playing with. Unlike Phoenix, Sacramento has a dearth of point guards. He’s let it be known he wants to play early, and that Sacramento is not a place he’s adverse to going.
Guys like Willie Cauley-Stein and Georgios Papagiannis can keep Fox clean on pick-and-rolls as he fills into his frame in the NBA. Skal Labissiere is the type of stretch-four the NBA is shifting to. Buddy Hield is the perfect running mate in the backcourt for Fox. He is bigger and stronger, and a much better shooter at this stage of his career than De’Aaron. The two can complement each other’s’ skill set tremendously.
All of these guys are young and can benefit from a point guard like Fox and vice-versa. The Kings also have the tenth pick in this draft and will have their first round pick in either 2018 or 2019 depending on where the Lakers’ first round draft picks falls next year. They will have the cap, the youth, and the talent to rebuild the franchise from the ground up. De’Aaron Fox would be the perfect person to rule the new kingdom.