NBA Draft Scouting Report: De’Aaron Fox’s Strengths, Weaknesses and Comparison
As we are just a handful of days away from the NBA Draft I’ll be breaking down the scouting reports for various players across the country who are expected to be taken in the top-10 of the 2017 NBA Draft. If there is someone specific you want on here, please let me know @barstoolreags. All videos are courtesy of Synergy and Krossover and the stats will come from Synergy, Krossover and KenPom.
De’Aaron Fox – Kentucky
6’4”, 171 lbs, 19 years old
Projected: No. 5 (DraftExpress) No. 4 (NBADraft.net)
Comparison: Pre-Injury Jrue Holiday
Background: After battling a couple of injuries during the regular season, De’Aaron Fox seemed to make the biggest jump up the boards during the NCAA Tournament run, most notably the game against UCLA where he dropped 39 points in a game that saw five first round picks playing. He was named All-SEC after putting up 16.7/4.6/3.9 stat line and recorded just the second triple-double in Kentucky history. He’s got good size at 6’4″ for a point guard with an even better wingspan as he reaches 6’7″. There are obvious concerns about his shooting, which along with his speed were the two most talked about things when it came to Fox’s one season at Kentucky.
Strengths: There was perhaps no one faster in college basketball last season than De’Aaron Fox. This, along with going to Kentucky, is where and why you’ll see a ton of John Wall comparisons. His speed allowed him to have 31% of possessions in transition as teams struggled to stay in front of him, even after made buckets. It was the one of the fastest tempos Kentucky has played under John Calipari and where Fox thrived. According to Synergy he was first in power conference players with 5.9 points per game in transition. What makes him so good in this transition is his ability to finish at the rim, his ball-handling and his ability to finish through contact despite his frame. I want to focus just on the speed though to start. Here he shows you his ability to push tempo while being under control and still able to finish at the rim. This speed is what will immediately translate to the NBA, as he can push tempo there.
What really made Fox great though was his ability to get to the rim, even in the halfcourt, despite teams sagging on him daring him to shoot. He was patient offensively instead of settling for a jumper as he had 55% of shots at the rim in the half court. You really saw him shine in the pick-and-roll set late in games as that sort of became Kentucky’s closer. If UK was holding a lead and wanted to waste a little clock, they’d let Fox pound the rock and then bring Bam up for a high ball screen. Fox used his quickness plus his ability to set his defender up to slither past the screen and more times than not finish at the rim. He ranked in the 73rd percentile nationally with .852 points per possession in the PnR set, but much better when you look at his numbers going to the basket. Out of the PnR set he ranked in the 92nd percentile nationally with 1.357 points per possession driving to the basket. Again, his ability to finish through contact (he was in the top-50 nationally at drawing fouls as he drew 6.5/40 minutes) and use a variety of finishes (most notably his lefty floater) made him tough to guard in this set. Here are a couple examples where you can see him use his crossover to set up on a switch and then against Lonzo Ball, his ability to finish with a finger roll.
Defensively, there’s plenty to get excited about when it comes to Fox. I mentioned earlier his 6’7″ wingspan which allows him to tip a lot of passes as well as gamble on reaches as he can stay in front of the opponent, especially when you combine that with his absurd lateral quickness. With Fox, if he gets a steal, it’s almost a guarantee that it will be two points, something we saw him really take advantage of this past season was jumping the passing lane. He’s especially good in ISO sets as he held opponents to a scoring rate of just 32%.
Weaknesses: I mean you have to start it with his inconsistent shooting. There’s no way around it. That’s the biggest concern for teams as Fox struggled for 95% of the season shooting the ball. He ended up 25% from the 3-point line, 52% from inside the arc, 74% from the free throw line and 55% as a true shooting percentage. Most of that isn’t bad, but 25% from the 3-point line is beyond trouble. Granted he did start to shoot the ball better toward the end of the year, there were too many times where teams just dared him to shoot. What’s weird is his shot form isn’t that bad. He is always squared up, he gets good elevation, the problem is he consistently changes the top half of his body, whether it’s shot release point or using more of his arms because of tired legs. He needs to develop a consistent jumper from the NBA 3-point line in order to be a star in this league. On top of that people do worry about his frame as he has skinnier legs and weights just 174. You’d like to see him get a little bit stronger, but again, if he can just bulk up the legs a little bit he’s fine. While he’s strong at most defensive points, he can get lost off the ball or fighting through a pick-and-roll. the PnR does tie a little bit into strength as he gets pinned by bigger guys, but he also seems to struggle in defending jump shots when he’s off the ball. At Kentucky he would often get sucked in, looking to gamble or help and get beat on his guy relocating.
Draft Stock/Projection: All that said I have Fox at No. 3 on my big board behind Fultz and Jayson Tatum. I think his game is made for the NBA, as he’ll have more room to operate. When you look at his ability to get to the rim while still having a 28.6 assist rate (98th in the country) despite not having many shooters on the floor, you’d expect Fox to have an easier time at the NBA. He’ll still be one of the fastest guys in the league as he enters as a rookie and with his size, fits right in with today’s NBA. While there are worries about his shooting ,you can look at his 74% from the free throw line and feel like there is an above average chance he becomes more consistent with his jumper. That’s a pretty good number and why executives are confident in that. Fox is rumored to a couple teams in the top-5, but you have to feel like Sacramento could be an ideal landing spot. I know there are a lot of jokes about the Kings, but with two top-10 picks in this year’s draft plus how WCS/Buddy/Skal looked at the end of last season, they could build a nice young core there.