With the NBA Draft coming in June, the Dallas Mavericks will be looking to pick the best available player, but also hoping said player is a stud point guard. If the Mavs are looking for a guy who can help them both now and later, they should look no further than De’Aaron Fox. Fox is projected by many different mock drafts to go in the top five, but it is possible (if not probable) that either he falls to the Mavs at the No. 9 pick or Dallas trades up if they want him badly enough.
The 19-year-old freshman finished his only collegiate season averaging 16.7 points, 4.6 assists and 4.o rebounds per game for the Kentucky Wildcats. Although his season ended in the Elite Eight against the North Carolina Tarheels (who went on to win the title), Fox played so well against top competition throughout March Madness that his draft stock rose considerably. Let’s take a closer look at what Dallas would be getting with Fox.
Fox has something that can’t be taught: size. He’s big for a point guard, standing at 6’3” tall with a 6’6” wingspan. And as good as Yogi Ferrell was for Dallas this past season, the Mavs desperately need a young starting point guard with enough length to compete with the likes of Russell Westbrook, Steph Curry, Kyrie Irving, John Wall and other elite guards.
The longer the prospect, the more defensive upside they have. A very good recent example is Giannis Antetokounmpo, who is nearly seven feet and can also run the point guard position. The Greek Freak has become an excellent two-way player for the Milwaukee Bucks in the last few years, meanwhile SHANE LARKIN IS NO LONGER IN THE FREAKING LEAGUE— *takes deep breath* ok, let’s move on.
In addition to his size, Fox is lightning quick and extremely athletic, able to get to the rim at will. The Mavs should be salivating at the idea of pairing Fox with Nerlens Noel as a pick-and-roll partner. He also has an impressive ability to get open looks for both himself and his teammates. Although he only averaged 4.6 assists per game for Kentucky, Fox can likely improve on that number once he’s surrounded by better shooters in the NBA.
Fox also loves stepping up his play against top competition. When Kentucky played UCLA in this year’s Sweet Sixteen, Fox completely out dueled projected top-three pick Lonzo Ball. Fox put up 39 points, four assists and three rebounds while leading Kentucky to a 86-75 victory. To compare, Ball had 10 points (on 4-10 shooting) and eight assists in the game. Check out Fox’s highlights from that match.
There is a whole lot to like about Fox’s game, but just like everyone else, he has a couple of weaknesses. The most obvious is his shooting mechanics, especially from the three-point line. At Kentucky, Fox struggled mightily from deep, shooting an underwhelming 24.6 percent. That being said, he only attempted two threes per game. And although he shot 52 percent on all two-pointers last year, the majority of those buckets were right at the rim. But with more practice going forward, that percentage should steadily improve, especially if Fox were to be mentored by Rick Carlisle and Dirk Nowitzki.
Although Fox had some nice moments on defense and certainly has potential on that end, he was an inconsistent defender. Whether that was because of his thin build (Fox is listed as 185 pounds, but looks more like 170) or just a lack of interest, either of those issues can be addressed. The occasional lack of interest is understandable for a 19-year-old who knows he’s going to the NBA immediately after his freshman year in college. Being part of a franchise for the long term will likely help Fox lock in more often. As far as his frame goes, Fox is about 15 pounds of muscle away from being unstoppable.
Fit with the Mavs
Let’s start with basketball fit. De’Aaron Fox is a young, athletic point guard with impressive size and length and tremendous upside on both ends of the floor. I’d say that would be a pretty awesome fit with this Mavs team.
Here’s a potential trade I could see happening on draft night:
Mavs Receive: 5th pick (Fox), Aaron Afflalo
Kings Receive: 9th pick, Wes Matthews, future 1st, and some other filler-player of their choice.
If Fox did become a Maverick, it’s not like he would be walking into a typical bottom dweller-type franchise situation. Dallas only won 33 games last season, but they also had a ton of injuries early on. Had Dirk not missed 20-plus games this past season, the Mavs would have surely made the playoffs, especially with the addition of Noel. Fox would come in as the starting point guard and help the Mavs out immediately. Having established professionals around Fox from the start should really expedite his development as well.
What about his fit with the organization’s culture? Fox, from what I've observed, seems to be a really knowledgeable young player who gives his all to help his team win.
The stereotype with college “one-and-dones” is that they have one foot out the door all year, just waiting to make that jump to the NBA. After Kentucky lost to North Carolina in the Elite Eight this year, Fox broke down in tears after giving everything he had to the Wildcats’ program. This kid cares about and loves his teammates, and that’s exactly the kind of guy the Mavs need on the roster next year and many more to come.