Haliburton, Playoff Aspirations, Keegan Murray, and More: De’Aaron Fox on Draymond’s Podcast

Everyone is aware that De’Aaron Fox is at the beginning of what should be his best season. 

After the rejuvenation of the trade last February to get Domantas Sabonis, things appear to be teed up for the talented point guard to surpass some personal accolades, especially with the improved talent and structure added around him in the offseason, which makes a run at legitimate team success more possible than it has ever been since he was drafted by the Sacramento Kings.

Fox’s conversation with Draymond Green on the latter’s self-named podcast was released yesterday, and the two delved into those very topics.

Here are four of the main highlights to take away:

The message of the Sabonis-Haliburton trade

Fox and Green both agreed that Sabonis is great. The big man’s teammate gushed about his playmaking and inside abilities, admitting that his addition helped him “expand” his own game “tremendously.”

On the other side of that trade, the two also discussed the immense talent of Tyrese Haliburton, and the fact he’s a franchise point guard.

Looking back at that last February, it was the reason that Haliburton possessed so much potential that Fox did not believe his then-teammate when he told him about the trade:

“When the trade happened, for one, he told me and I was like, ‘Yo, you lying. They didn’t trade you.’ And then (Adrian Wojnarowski) tweets it like two minutes later and I’m like, wow we really did that.”

In spite of the surprise—and many fans, it’s fair to say, were just as shocked—Fox was instantly excited about being able to play with Domas, noting that every time he’d played the big man, “he’s 20 and 20, 20 and 15 every time.” It didn’t take long for him to realize that “a big that can pass the ball” that well “opens up the world.”

More importantly, once the trade happened, Fox had also heard the accompanying message loud and clear as it pertained to himself:

“For me, it’s like, yo, they believe in me. But two, it’s like… we just traded somebody who can be a franchise point guard either here or somewhere else, so you better get on your shit and you better start winning. So does it add pressure? Yeah, a little bit, but at the end of the day, I’ve been trying to get us into the playoffs for years, so it’s a little added pressure and it ain’t never hurt nobody.”

He’s tired of the playoff drought talk

The general demeanor from the Kings players regarding the 16-year playoff drought is fairly consistent. 

Harrison Barnes has emphasized the now.

“This is a new group… these guys are wearing a Sacramento Kings uniform for the very first time, so they don’t necessarily have that burden on them of however many years,” Barnes said during training camp. “They’re saying, ‘Look, I want to make my mark as a King today.'”

Newcomer Malik Monk expressed a similar mentality.

“We don’t talk about (the playoff drought) because we know about it. I don’t think we need to talk about something that’s already out there,” Malik Monk told reporters this last week in reference to the drought. 

Monk went on to add that “if we just do what we’re supposed to do, we’ll make it to the postseason.”

De’Aaron Fox more or less says the same thing, but as he admits, “you definitely feel the burden” of the drought. It’s hard not to, he said, when his face is on every “little Instagram post” that says “the Sacramento Kings haven’t been there for 16 years.”

However, his focus remains primarily on the now, even as so much emphasis is put on the past regarding this franchise:

“Man, you walk around and you talk to any Kings fan, the first thing they gonna bring up is ’01-02. So I’m just trying to get back to that so now you’re bringing up ’22-23 or whatever it may be rather than we talking about something that happened 20 years ago. If the Kings fan is over 30 years-old, they’re going to bring up that Lakers series or that year nine times out of ten. So, like, I’m not saying I’m getting tired of hearing it, but I’m tired of hearing it.”

Without a beat, Draymond Green forms one of his big grins.

“So you’re going to change that?” he asks Fox. And Fox affirms it.

If Keegan Murray “had facial hair”…

The two went on to talk about some things pertaining to Fox’s draft night, which included the fact that he skipped his workout with the Suns due to Brandon Knight and Eric Bledsoe being there while now knowing, in hindsight, that neither point guard worked out in Phoenix and Fox could have easily been paired with Devin Booker.

After talking about the 2017 draft, Green kicked the discussion to the topic of Kings rookie forward Keegan Murray.

Fox had nothing but good things to say.

Not only is it “crazy how good he is,” Fox noted that the rookie also has “that Tim Duncan demeanor.” Everyday he sees Murray and talks to him with some high energy, the Iowa product is always even-keeled and mild mannered

He continued to describe his admiration for the young player:

“He’s the most efficient guy I’ve ever been around. You look over, if he’s shooting, he’s not missing. And then we played pick-up a little bit before training camp, he doesn’t miss, he doesn’t have any wasted motion. Everything he does is just efficient — defensively, offensively, grabbing rebounds, boxing out — he kind of really just kind of makes the game look easy. And if he had some facial hair, I would have thought bro was in his 30’s, but I think he just turned 22, and he walks around and the demeanor is just always calm. He’s gonna be really good. He’s gonna show the world what he can do.”

Being good from three “opens up the world for” the Kings

Draymond Green asked Fox what his personal goal is other than making the playoffs. And Fox jumped straight to the importance of his ability to shoot from beyond the three-point line:

“Man, for me personally, it stems to shooting the ball. Whenever I’ve shot the ball well, the team has done better because now you might have to take an extra step up, and an extra step up guarding me, it’s probably a wrap. So just being able to shoot the ball, I think, unlocks so much for this team. We’ll have shooters everywhere around Domas. I think it turns us into an entirely different team if I’m shooting the ball the way I want to shoot the ball.”

Fox described how he has to do more than just hit them in practice and get more “consistency” in real games.

Another reason this is imperative to the point guard connects back to his playoff aspirations:

“The way I’ve looked at it over the years is your point guard has to be able to shoot the ball. What’s the last team that’s won a championship and the point guard wasn’t a really good shooter?”

Answering his own question, Fox points to the Spurs teams of nearly a decade ago, highlighting his understanding of how important his own ability from three matters in the modern game.

Avoiding disrespecting Tony Parker, Draymond made sure to note that he was such a “deadly” mid-range shooter, which was highly effective then. 

Off of that, Fox linked even that back to playoff success—with Draymond’s agreement the whole way through—ultimately underlining (for like the fifth time in the interview) how important that third level of scoring becomes:

“Obviously, in the playoffs you have to be able to get to a mid-range shot because teams are going to start taking away first, second, third option, so you have to be able to hit them, which I think I’m a good mid-range shooter, I can get to the basket in the blink of an eye, so now that next step is being able to extend my range. And it’s not like I have to shoot forty-percent, it’s really just being thirty-five, just being respectable from three, and I think that opens up the world for us.”

It sure does, as Green notes, because “nobody can stay in front of” De’Aaron Fox.

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[…] determination. His professionalism—the “Tim Duncan demeanor,” as De’Aaron Fox characterized it—and efficiency seems to create the illusion of a first-year vet, and it’s probably not even […]