Prospect Profile: De’Aaron Fox

Leading up to the 2017 NBA Draft, we will be diving into what our Draft Models tell us about this year’s top prospects. Our NBA Draft Models include the PNSP Model, NBA Role Probability Model, and Similarity Scores which each provide unique ways of evaluating college prospects. Our Prospect Profiles look at which stats positively/negatively affect NBA projections, unique data points from a player’s stats, and relevant comparisons to current NBA players. You can find links to all of our Prospect Profiles in the header menu above (NBA –> NBA Draft –> Prospect Profiles). In this article, we look at a prospect who propelled his draft stock in this year’s NCAA Tournament in De’Aaron Fox.

De’Aaron Fox | PG | Kentucky | Freshman

Draft Express #5 | Model 284 PNSP #8
Physical Measurements: 6’3.25″ | 170lbs | Wingspan: 6’6.5″ | Max Vertical: 38.5″
Top Player Comps: Tyler Ennis, Chris DuhonMarquis Teague

Age PTS/40 TRB/40 AST/40 STL/40 BLK/40
19.5 22.6 5.4 6.2 2.0 0.3
Model 284
Ratings
PNSP All-Star % Starter % Bench % Non-NBA %
83.2  28.9%  52.1%  6.0%  13.1%

There has been perhaps more buzz surrounding De’Aaron Fox over the past few months than any other draft prospect. His stock has continuously risen since his 39-point performance in a win over Lonzo Ball and the UCLA Bruins in the NCAA tournament. Now, Fox sits at #5 in the latest DraftExpress mock draft, and there have been rumors of him going even higher than that:

While there are still differing opinions on how much success Fox will have in the NBA, here is what our models have to say about the latest John Calipari product.

Scoring

The first thing that jumps out for De’Aaron Fox is our models projecting him as an exceptional scorer at his position, specifically on 2-point FGs. He also projects well above average in terms of free throw attempts, but well below average on free throw percentage. Finally, he projects as a poor 3-point shooter in terms of both volume and accuracy. All of these factors together suggest that Fox should be a great scorer/finisher at the rim, but will continue to struggle on outside shots. At Kentucky, Fox shot 64% at the rim but just 33% on jump shots, per Hoop Math. As further support to this view, many of Fox’s player comps from our Similarity Score Tool (shown below) fit a mold of explosive athlete/poor shooter – namely, Russell Westbrook and Derrick Rose, who both have All-NBA caliber scoring ability despite average/below average outside shooting:

Other Areas of the Game

In areas other than scoring, Fox projects above average (but not elite) in terms of assists, rebounds, and steals, relative to other guards. Though he projects well in these areas statistically, one physical concern is whether his light frame (weighed 170lbs at the NBA Combine) will make it difficult for him to have success in the NBA against stronger, bigger competition.

The only other area where he projects slightly below average is in blocks, which is not a surprise given he only had 7 blocks in 36 games as a Freshman at Kentucky. While blocks may not seem important for a PG, they have shown to be a good measure of athleticism and defensive instincts. For example, Kris Dunn, John Wall, and Dwyane Wade all had 19+ blocks as college guards and now have a defensive box plus/minus of 0.5 or greater. With many scouts touting Fox as a lock-down defender, it is interesting to see this stat trend in the opposite direction.

Conclusions

De’Aaron Fox’s PNSP score of 83.2 ranks 8th in this year’s class, while his combined All-Star + Starter probability (81%) ranks 4th (behind only Lonzo Ball, Jonathan Isaac, and Josh Jackson) giving him one of the best floor/ceiling combinations in this year’s class.

These strong predictions coupled with Fox’s athleticism, defensive upside, and his high scoring projection make it easy to see why he has climbed near the top of many NBA draft boards. With that said, his extremely poor NBA shooting projection raises a red flag considering the importance of shooting in today’s NBA. Given these shooting struggles, Fox could fit nicely next to a knock-down shooting guard such as Devin Booker or D’Angelo Russell but could prove worrisome on a team that already lacks outside shooting such as Orlando or Minnesota. Ultimately, the models see Fox carving out a starting-level role or better in the NBA in spite of his shooting flaws. And while shooting is important, we have not reached the point where you must shoot 40% from three in order to see the floor, and Fox should be serviceable or better in all areas of the game other than outside shooting.

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