Kings’ De’Aaron Fox proves why he should walk away with the NBA award for New Clutch Player of the Year

CHICAGO – Sacramento Kings guard Malik Monk wasn’t surprised. Kings head coach Mike Brown knew it was going in too. When All-Star Guard De’Aaron Fox rose above Ayo Dosunmu for a potentially game-winning 3-pointer Wednesday night, one could hear an angry “No!” from Chicago Bulls fans at the United Center. listen, probably because they had seen this movie before.

With four seconds remaining and a 114 tie per game, Fox lost a 3-pointer to lead Sacramento to their 41st win of the season and secured the Kings a record .500 or more for the first time since 2006.

The win required a comeback after dropping 16 points in the first half, but Fox’s late-game exploits – which included a midfield jumper who looked like he had thwarted play for the Kings – were the highlight of the At evening. As the Bulls tied the score with some clutch moments of their own in the final seconds, Sacramento had to call out its clutch king again, and he delivered.

Monk, who got a great view of Fox’s 3-pointers as he stood on the floor in the corner and patiently waited to see what his former University of Kentucky teammate would do, wasn’t the least bit obsessed with Fox’s surprised at the last clutch moment.

“I’ll keep saying it, man, I’m not surprised,” Monk quipped after the game. “I’ve been with him for a long time, I know what he’s going to do. I have the utmost faith in him. Only Fox is Fox.”

“Only Fox is Fox,” a common refrain among Kings players and coaches who have had a front row seat to Fox’s clutch performances all season. Fox currently leads the NBA in total points this season, which accounts for points scored in the final five minutes of the game when the lead is less than five points. But the fact that Fox tops this category isn’t the surprising part, it’s how far he is from every other person behind him in this statistic. Fox has 180 clutch points this season, their closest contenders are DeMar DeRozan and Jimmy Butler with 138 points each. According to CBS Sports senior researcher Doug Clawson, that 42-point lead is the widest gap between the top two scorers in the past 15 years, dating back to when LeBron James overtook Kobe Bryant by 104 points in the 2007-08 season.

Player coupling statistics 2022-23

De’Aaron Fox




Demar DeRozan




Jimmy Butler




Jalen Brunson




Luke Doncic




Fox’s embrace, which has become commonplace for Kings players and coaches by this point in the season, was not what Brown expected when he became Sacramento’s head coach last summer.

“That was one of those things I didn’t know how consistent he was going to be in the clutch when I took the job,” Brown said.

But now, after seeing that play out, Brown has openly promoted Fox forming an All-NBA team and has called him the most accomplished player in the league.

We’ll have to see how the All-NBA teams do, although Fox certainly should be there. However, Fox’s clutch dominance makes him a shoo-in to win the inaugural Jerry West Clutch Player of the Year award. Nobody has been as consistent at the end of games as he is and what’s even more impressive is the variety with which he scores those points.

Fox is widely regarded as the fastest guard in the league, and he’ll use that breakneck speed to get past almost any defender placed in front of him. When that happens, he has great control on the edge where he finishes with a 78% clip, not just a career high but the highest mark by a guard this season. His midfield play has gradually improved throughout his career to the point where he’s converting on 50% of those shots, which is in the 91st percentile. His 3-point efficiency is the only shaky point in his offensive game, but he’s shot 37% from the arc so far in March. You mix all that together and it’s no wonder he was so dangerous when the game was at stake.

It’s also quite ironic that two of Fox’s game-winning shots this season have come from 3-pointers, an area where he’s struggled, including against the Bulls. The other was this casual 35-footer back in November against the Orlando Magic:

Fox has the offensive weapons to take down just about any defense. But then again, there are plenty of players in the league with versatile offensive plays who haven’t been as deadly as Fox when the game is at stake. So what sets him apart from others? If you ask Brown, he’ll not only talk about Fox’s acumen in basketball, but also the aspects that can’t be quantified by a single statistic.

“His presence, his calm, his demeanor, whatever you want to call it, was just amazing throughout the game, especially on possession plays,” Brown said of his All-Star guard. “And for him to go in those three not to disrespect anyone but when he shot that I just felt like it went in. And that has nothing to do with me, because we didn’t do anything but tell everyone, get the hell out of the way. It’s just a confidence he exudes during this time in the game and he’s been shown game after game after game that he can pull it off.

Fox credits his teammates and coaches for instilling confidence in him during those moments, and as for the trend of him hitting all his game winners on the road this season, there’s certainly some meaning behind it.

“If you ask anyone who’s ever asked me whether I’d rather beat a game winner at home or on the street, I’d much rather do it on the street,” Fox said. “I’d rather silence the crowd than get upset in any way, but that’s who I am as a person. Quiet, not loud. So I like to do it on the street.”

Whether it’s home or away, Fox was the reason Sacramento has the sixth-best percentage of clutch wins. While other individual awards may be decided in the last game of the regular season, the league should engrave Fox’s name on the Clutch Player of the Year award now. And if he can carry that dominance into the playoffs, opposing teams better hope Fox doesn’t have the ball in his hands when the game is at stake.

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