De’Aaron Fox used a strong showing in the NCAA Tournament to climb up NBA Draft boards. Fox led Kentucky to a 32-6 record and an Elite Eight appearance as a freshman. He was named a member of the First Team All-SEC behind his 16.7 points per game and outstanding defense. Standing 6-3 with a 6-7 wingspan, Fox has solid size for a point guard, though he does still need to add strength. He’s a top-notch athlete with blazing speed in the open court and quickness in the half-court. Fox has potential to be a two-way star, but needs to improve his jumper and strength to last in the NBA.
Fox’s best NBA skill is likely his ability in the open floor. He’s an absolute blur going coast-to-coast with the ball in his hands. He puts constant pressure on the entire defense and gets all the way to the rim seamlessly. Fox is just as dangerous in the half-court, using his tight handle and shiftiness to get past defenders one-on-one. He uses slight hesitations and quick crossovers to bewilder defenders. In the pick and roll, Fox is a nightmare for big men who have no chance when they switch onto him. He has no issue getting into the lane and finishes above the rim consistently, though he can rely too much on his left hand. Fox also shows the ability to hit a floater over big men in the lane. He does have some issues in the paint, as he doesn’t have the strength to score over physical defenders. He doesn’t back down from contact though, getting to the free-throw line 5.9 times per game.
Where Fox needs to improve at the NBA level is with his outside shooting and playmaking ability. His shooting mechanics aren’t completely broken, but he hasn’t displayed the ability to knock down deep-range shots. Fox shot just 17-for-69 from three-point range at Kentucky, as defenses consistently dared him to beat them from the outside. If he doesn’t force teams to respect him from the perimeter, they will sag way off him which will neutralize his driving ability. Fox did show some ability to hit a mid-range pull-up jumper and shot a solid 73.9% from the free-throw line, so there is some positive signs he can develop his shot. As a playmaker, Fox shows flashes but his point guard skills still need some improvement. He can be too fast for his own good at time, getting too sped up and making silly mistakes. He was most comfortable passing in transition at Kentucky, but also showed flashes of playmaking out of ball screens and off penetration. Teams will be keyed in on shutting down Fox’s ability to get to the rim, so he will need punish help defenders by dishing to their man.
Fox also shows the capability to be one of the better defensive point guards in the NBA. He has exceptional lateral quickness and nags at ball-handlers for the entire length of the court. He has sound instincts defensively and uses his quick hands to harass players, picking up 1.5 steals per game. Fox will need to add some strength to become a more versatile defender that can handle bigger guards. He also goes through stretches of lackadaisical defense and will need to be more consistently locked in.
De’Aaron Fox has the speed and athleticism of an NBA point guard, but also has some major areas of his game he needs to improve. For as outstanding as he is at driving and getting to the rim, Fox will need to establish an outside game to open up the floor. If he isn’t able to threaten defenses with his shot, they will pack the paint and counteract his ability to get to the rim. He also will need to add some strength to his frame to survive in the physical NBA. His defensive effectiveness makes him a relatively safe bet to provide some value to an NBA team regardless of his offensive output. Though if Fox does complement his driving ability with a jumper and improves as a passer, he can become nearly impossible to defend.