The greatest NBA players are relentless, the kind of player the opponent knows will make him work every minute he’s on the floor.
Kings rookie point guard De’Aaron Fox wants to be great. And he’s learning that means kicking into high gear from start to finish, and that’s not easy to do.
Fox made his second career start in place of George Hill, who missed the game for personal reasons, in a 108-99 loss to the Detroit Pistons on Saturday night at Little Caesars Arena. It was Sacramento’s seventh consecutive loss and dropped the Kings to 1-8, their worst start since the 1990-91 season.
Fox finished with 14 points and four assists, but seven of those points came in the final four minutes of the game. By then, Detroit had the game under control. That’s often been the case for Fox this season.
Sacramento needs Fox to be relentless from the moment he steps on the floor.
“De’Aaron didn’t get a lot done, I don’t think, for the first 43, 44 minutes,” said Kings coach Dave Joerger. “He got some of his numbers at the end, but we need that kind of push every minute that he plays, and I think that we can get that. But we’ve got to get it out of him, and you see some really good things when he’s playing with a pace and an urgency getting up and down the floor.”
Fox is aware of this, too.
“I’ve just got to do it,” he said.
“VC (Vince Carter) actually told me the same thing. I have to be aggressive like that the whole game. It’s just a mentality, you know you can say it, but once you get on the court, it’s kind of something you’re not thinking about. It’s one thing I know I need to do, and that’s be aggressive and stay aggressive the entire game. Not only me, but the entire team.”
That aggression isn’t just about scoring, Fox said. It’s something he needs to show in all areas of his game. That energy could be contagious.
“Just an overall mindset,” Fox said. “The last four minutes that I played, it wasn’t just me shooting the ball, it was me getting in the lane, passing, I picked up defensively. It’s every aspect of the game.”
It’s common for a rookie, especially one this early into his career, to be hesitant about when to attack.
“He’s learning you pick and choose,” said forward Zach Randolph. “But having him out there and experiencing it, he’s a dog. He’s going to be one of the best point guards in the league. You just keep going. ... He’s got a great work ethic and you see his talent.”
For Fox to be that dog consistently, there’s still work to do. Playing that way isn’t just a mindset. The body has to cooperate, too.
“You have to work on it, you have to be in the best shape of your life to play that hard every possession,” Fox said. “But it’s something that I know that I’m going to have to do. There are players in the league that do it, so I know I’m going to have to do it.”