The Sacramento Kings received devastating news Monday afternoon when it was reported that starting point guard De’Aaron Fox could miss more than a month of action after suffering a severely sprained ankle.
Near the end of practice, a teammate accidentally stepped on the third-year guard’s foot resulting in the injury. An MRI confirmed that he suffered a Grade 3 sprain of his left ankle – the most severe level. He will be re-evaluated in three to four weeks before a definitive time table can be set for his return.
The re-evaluation comment is generally code for “he will be out much longer, so don’t get your hopes up”.
This news comes less than three weeks after the team’s other young star, Marvin Bagley was ruled out of action for four to six weeks following a fractured right thumb.
In nine games this season, Fox was averaging 18.2 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 7.0 assists. While his overall stats were down slightly from last season, his floor leadership and wide-ranging scoring threat on the court will be missed. Defenses will now be able to focus in on the team’s other options and try to disrupt what was an offense that had just started clicking.
Obviously, the Kings’ depth will be tested over the coming months, and general manager Vlade Divac’s moves over the summer to bolster the bench will be under an extreme microscope.
Veteran point guard Cory Joseph and utility superstar Bogdan Bogdanovic will need to step up and fill the void left by Fox. Both are quite capable of leading this team, but neither possesses the speed and athleticism of De’Aaron and head coach Luke Walton must switch up his game plan to accommodate their strengths – a high-IQ, half-court offense. The run-and-gun Kings may be on hold for a while.
Third-string guard Yogi Farrell will also likely be thrust into action. He can fill some of the void in scoring but isn’t much of a flor-leader and lacks the size of the other guards on the team.
Some fans may begin clamoring for two-way player Kyle Guy to come in and play a role. I personally don’t see that as Guy is more of a shooting guard right now, can’t play defense, and is basically a Yogi clone with no NBA experience. Let him find his way in the G-League and then see what he can bring later. That is why the Kings retained Farrell in the first place.
While this news is absolutely crushing for a fan-base hoping for their young core to lead them to the playoffs for the first time in 13years, it may not be the end of the world. Sure, De’Aaron is a great rising star and brings an excitement to the game that few can, but his replacements are not unplayable scrubs by any stretch of the imagination. Joseph is an extremely heady player, and Bogdanovic could start for a lot of teams in the NBA.
Let’s not throw in the towel just yet. Let’s give coach Walton a chance to prove his skills as a coach and retune this team on the fly. Critics will smirk, fans will snark, but this team still has several quality players on the roster. Can Luke turn them into a team?
Next man up!