We can all agree that De’Aaron Fox is one of the most electrifying young players in the NBA, but the Sacramento Kings could be putting that in jeopardy. The reason for that would be signing Hassan Whiteside. While the deal is only worth $2.3M for one year, this is the first step in ruining the career of De’Aaron Fox.
What I fear for Fox is a situation much like Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming. McGrady was a highly explosive guard, albeit a much better shooter than Fox. He has tons of highlights where he’s dunking around three guys or finishing despite a crowded paint.
But think how much better McGrady could’ve been with an empty paint.
Instead of trying to complete drives one-on-one, McGrady was often cornered because of the terrible spacing his teammates provided, especially the bigs like Yao Ming. Now, McGrady was one of the most talented offensive players of all time, and often had no trouble finishing around five players. But can the same be said for De’Aaron Fox? No, at least not yet.
Whiteside clogging up the paint will deter Fox from playing his style and dissuade him from being the speedy slasher that he is. He needs an open paint to operate at his full potential and bringing in Hassan Whiteside congests the area of the floor where De’Aaron shoots 58.4%, the restricted area.
Last season, 77% of Whiteside’s shots were inside 8 feet, and 66% of his shots were taken within 5 feet. So even if he decides to get out of the way and try to stretch the floor, there’s little incentive for the center guarding him to chase him and allow Fox a one-on-one drive opportunity.
Even Yao Ming, the 7’6″ center that was a paint beast, spaced the floor better. In Yao’s best season, 2006-07, 56% of his shots came from within 8 feet and a mere 35% of his shots were taken within just 5 feet. Like I mentioned earlier, McGrady was a better shooter than Fox, and so he took more outside shots and midrange shots. But when he did drive or post up, most of the time he had teammates in the paint, which means extra defenders to block his shots.
De’Aaron is nowhere near the offensive talent that McGrady was, and Whiteside doesn’t even space the floor as much as Yao does, so how is this setup going to work in Sacramento?