Kentucky point guard De’Aaron Fox is a blur, but even he may not be as fast as his rising NBA draft stock.
A 39-point game against a potential Top-2 pick will do that.
To be fair, Fox’s draft stock was already on the uptick. Before the Sweet 16 matchup against UCLA, he was averaging 19.7 points on 53.3 percent shooting, 2.8 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.3 steals in six March games.
But what he did against Lonzo Ball and the Bruins–getting to the hoop at will, committing only one turnover in 36 minutes, scoring 39 while still playing dogged, intense defense–proved that he belongs in the conversation to be a top-five pick next June. I’ve got Fox slotted as the No. 6 pick to the New York Knicks in my latest mock draft, while most pundits are in agreement that he’s moving up draft boards:
“(Fox) completely outplayed Lonzo Ball on both ends of the court,” wrote ESPN draft guru Chad Ford. “Speed, explosion, toughness, heart, great feel for the game. He’s a consistent jumper away from being a monster in the NBA.”
He got to the hoop at will, he committed only one turnover in 36 minutes, and he badgered Ball, Aaron Holiday and Co. defensively.
Yes, there are still concerns about his three-point shot (he has improved in that regard the last month, though he’s still not much of a threat from out there), but his lateral quickness and ball-handling allow him to beat defenders off the dribble even when they play a step off of him. Moreover, the lack of a three-point shot is also less of a concern because of his mid-range game, as he boasts a deadly floater and a pretty consistent 16-to-18 foot jumper.
“It’s tough to stop a guy who has as good a mid-range game as he does,” said UCLA guard Bryce Alford. “That’s a lost art in college basketball, and it’s very hard to stop. If we had to do it all over again, I don’t know if we’d change our game plan. He was just phenomenal tonight.”
Fox’s downhill style will remind a lot of John Wall, and though he may not be selected No. 1 overall like the other former Kentucky guard, any other pick is within range as long as he keeps playing like he did against the Bruins.
In our newest 2017 NBA mock draft, there are three Top-6 picks and six first-rounders projected to be playing in this weekend’s Elite 8.
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