De’Aaron Fox is the biggest home run in the draft for the Sacramento Kings since DeMarcus Cousins in 2010. Drafting Fox was the sign that the Kings rebuild was restarting once again. At the fifth pick, Sacramento found a young, athletic point guard with star potential. He had a fairly average rookie season — 11.6 points, 4.4 assists and 1.0 steals per game — and the Kings found themselves heading into the offseason with the second overall pick.
Fox stepped up in a big way in his second season though. His numbers jumped to 17.3 points, 7.3 assists, and 1.6 steals per game. As a finalist for the Most Improved Player award, Fox led the Kings to the a 20-21 record.
Without context, that isn’t anything to brag about. It’s sub-.500 and the Kings didn’t end up making the playoffs. However, that 20-21 record was the Kings’ best mark halfway through the season since 2004-05. It was an underwhelming record, but it was a sign that things were finally turning around in Sacramento, and the De’Aaron Fox-Buddy Hield tandem was responsible.
Zach Collins was drafted by the Kings, but immediately sent to the Blazers for Harry Giles and Justin Jackson. Collins wasn’t a difference-maker for the Trail Blazers last year, but in his sophomore season, he saw a bigger role and started showing signs of growth.
Harry Giles finally played the first game of his career this season. Heading into college, he was one of the top recruits in the country. A series of injuries did damage to his draft stock and he fell to the 20th pick. Now, mostly recovered, Giles is carving a role out for himself on the Kings’ bench.
Justin Jackson was also a rotation player on Sacramento’s bench in his first season and a half. He was dealt to the Dallas Mavericks as part of a package to acquire Harrison Barnes at the 2019 trade deadline.
Frank Mason III was drafted with the hopes that he could turn into a backup to De’Aaron Fox. He seemed to fit the role well enough in his first season, but his minutes were slashed significantly from 18.9 to 11.4 per game. Instead of one backup point guard, Mason and Yogi Ferrell split the time when Fox was out of the game.
Who they missed
De’Aaron Fox was certainly the right pick for the Kings, but the team would probably be better off had they kept Collins or selected someone else with the 10th and 34th picks:
- Luke Kennard (12th)
- Donovan Mitchell (13th)
- Bam Adebayo (14th)
- OG Anunoby (23rd)
- Kyle Kuzma (27th)
- Derrick White (29th)
- Dillon Brooks (45th
- Monte Morris (51st)
Since the team had just traded for Buddy Hield a few months prior, taking a shooting guard like Kennard or Mitchell wouldn’t have made sense. The team is still in need of forward depth, and since Giles is too injury-prone and Jackson isn’t on the team anymore, the Collins trade is looking bad.
Sacramento would have assuredly made the playoffs had it used the 10th selection on Kuzma and their 34th on Morris, but there was no way of knowing who the best picks were at the time.