Trae Young and De’Aaron Fox Forever Linked by a Record Stat Line

    Trae Young and De’Aaron Fox are now linked in NBA history. Young and Fox spearheaded big wins for

    October 22, 2018

    Trae Young and De’Aaron Fox are now linked in NBA history.

    Young and Fox spearheaded big wins for rebuilding franchises with their historic efforts Sunday, but both came into the league as different players. Their development paths crossed momentarily, but it’s likely the only link they will have throughout their NBA careers.

    After 10 straight seasons with playoff basketball, the Hawks went for a full reset two summers ago. They acquired Young in a draft day trade with the Mavericks to snag another first-round pick with the expectation Young could contribute offensively immediately.

    At Oklahoma, Young came out of nowhere. In the first 16 games of the season, he averaged 30.1 points and 10.0 assists per game while dominating the conversation in sports at the time. The Sooners went 14-2 in those games and Young seemed to be the front-runner for National Player of the Year.

    There were warning signs about Young’s game during that 16-game stretch, but his problems really came to the forefront in the following 15 contests. He was turning the ball over more and his shooting efficiency dipped. The Sooners, expectedly, went 5-10 in those games.

    Here’s a breakdown of Young’s numbers during those two very different stretches.

    Points FG% Assist/TO Ratio

    First 16 Games

    30.1 .458


    Next 15 Games 27.3 .393



    Young would routinely get hot from range during that opening run. In the final game of that first stretch, he put up 43 points against TCU and hit 10 of his 18 3-point attempts.


    Immediately following that effort, Young got stopped in his tracks against Kansas State. He had 12 turnovers and went 2-10 from deep.


    When the Hawks drafted Young, there were no questions about his offensive ability. He was going to light up opponents routinely, but he was also going to give them opportunities to force turnovers and stay in games with his volume chucking. Through the first three games, he’s been inconsistent offensively. His 35 point, 11 assist effort in Sunday’s win over the Cavaliers was aided by going 6-14 from three-point range and committing just one turnover. Young’s consistency and control will be elements of his game to look for as the season continues.


    Fox is almost the complete opposite of Young. He was a steady presence as Kentucky’s lead guard during the 2016-17 campaign and was more heralded for his distributing and defensive abilities. Fox posted a 96.9 defensive rating in his lone season in Lexington, which was tied for ninth in the country among guards. He ranked 11th among guards in assists. Fox finished 66th in total points in his only college season, a far cry from Young’s second-place finish among guards during his season in Norman.


    When Fox recorded what was the second triple-double in Kentucky basketball history at the time, he did it fairly quietly. He took just nine shots, including only one three-pointer while focusing on getting other players involved. Kentucky had six players in double figures in the win over Arizona State due in large part to Fox’s distribution skills. He was never regarded as an explosive scorer until the NCAA tournament.


    This was one of the rare times Fox looked to score first. He routinely took the ball to the hoop and showcased his floater routinely. 39 points later, Fox had flashed a new dimension of his game and raised his potential at the next level. His defense was still on display; he limited Lonzo Ball to 10 points on 4-of-10 shooting and forced four turnovers.


    In his rookie season in Sacramento, Fox struggled. He didn’t have the supporting cast necessary for his skillset and that resulted in poor showings on both ends of the floor. Fox did shoot 30.7 percent from deep last season on 153 attempts, a sign that he could eventually have a serviceable three-point shot. Other than that, it was a rough rookie campaign.

    Through the first three games this year, Fox has been better at attacking the rim and picking his spots offensively. His supporting cast has gotten better. This has resulted in a better shooting percentage and higher assist rate for Fox and a strong offensive unit for Sacramento overall. Whether this performance continues depends on Fox’s ability to consistently maneuver defenses, along with the growth of supporting players like Justin Jackson and Marvin Bagley III.

    Both the Hawks and Kings will be evaluating their respective point guards closely this season, albeit for different reasons. Atlanta will be looking for Young to take the jump as an all-around offensive star with MVP potential while Sacramento will attempt to evaluate how to best surround Fox with talent.

    Their careers briefly intertwined Sunday, but the odds favor Young and Fox being on drastically different paths for the rest of their NBA careers.


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