Basketball

Reader Mailbag: De’Aaron Fox Shot Selection

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I received my FIRST ever SacTown Crown Report MAILBAG QUESTIONNAIRE submission (click that link to submit yours) by Jon C., @catterj12 on Twitter!

Question: Jon C. asked, “Is there a difference in De’Aaron Fox’s shot selection between last year (2020-21) and this year?”

Great question, Jon! Ahead, I will dive into a couple of different shot charts and statistical analyses on Sacramento Kings starting point guard De’Aaron Fox. I will focus on different things that stuck out to me in terms of his shot selection, for this current season and last.

De’Aaron Fox Shot Comparison: 2020-21 and 2021-22 Seasons

2020-21 Season

PPS: Points Per Shot

Things That Stick Out

  • Overall PPS (Points Per Shot) Comparison Between Seasons
  • At The Rim
  • Three-Pointers
  • Mid-Range

Fox’s overall PPS last season was 1.05 compared to .78 this season. Without getting too technical, regardless of where Fox is shooting from, he is not scoring as many points per shot as last season.

Fox made his money at the rim last season. This has not been the case so far this 2021-22 season, as Fox’s frequency and PPS at the rim have both decreased. Fox’s frequency of shots at the rim went from .29 last season to .26 this season. To compound that, his PPS has gone down at the rim from 1.38 last season to 1.15 PPS this current season. Fox averaging fewer attempts from his best area on the court, and also converting fewer of those attempts.

Comparing three-point shots between last season and the current season, Fox is taking nearly the same frequency of 3 point shots (.29 to .30) but his points per shot are down significantly from last season to this season (.97 to .46).

Last season, the mid-range was actually where Fox scored his lowest PPS, and his highest frequency, .87 PPS with the frequency .42. This season his mid-range frequency has gone up, .44, and his PPS has gone down, .77. Optimistic!

The next thing that I compared/looked at was the frequency and PPS from each shot type and things that stuck out. Fox’s highest PPS on the court last season was at the rim, 1.38, with a frequency of .29. That was the same frequency as three-point shots, where Fox averaged .97 PPS. I was surprised to see those two frequencies being the same.

The charts below are associated with the data tables from above.

Fox Shooting Chart – ZONE 2020-21

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Fox Shooting Chart – ZONE 2021-22

More Fox Shot Charts and Analysis

More DATA! Below are INTERACTIVE shot charts for De’Aaron Fox. These show how Fox compares to the NBA average for each shot he has taken, in each specific area of the court. Pretty cool stuff, DIVE INTO THE DATA!

StatMuse Shot Chart 20-21

StatMuse Shot Chart 21-22

Things That Stick Out

One thing that surprised me was regarding the 2020-21 season was the field goal percentage (FG%) comparison between two similar zones, the right side and left side of the painted area, or what some refer to as the ‘key’. Fox, a left-handed player, was A LOT better from the right side of the lane, compared to the left side.

Last season, Fox was 61.9% from the right side of the key and 39.6% from the left side. This season from the same spots, Fox is shooting 28.6% on the right and 30% on the left. Those are both well below the league averages for FG% in those zones. Again, there is much room for improvement and optimism!

No Free Lunches … or Throws

This season, Fox is shooting 68% from the free-throw line, on 5.5 attempts per game. That percentage is the lowest in his NBA career, for any season. His career-high is 72% from the charity stripe, back in 2018-19, Fox’s second season in the NBA.

The season is still young, and Fox will most likely improve from the free-throw line. He doesn’t seem like a professional who is unaware, or unwilling, to work at improving a glaring deficiency in his elite-level game!

If I have ONE suggestion for Fox, simplify your routine and LOOK AT THE RIM. Time to toot my own horn, my college debt, and let you know a little more about ME: I earned my masters degree in kinesiology (Let’s go Chico State) and spent 5 seasons an assistant coach/strength coach/team manager for the men’s hoops teams … and well … looking at the target MATTERS. Simple.

Here are a few studies I quickly searched on the good ole internet to help prove my point:

Eye Focus Research on Foul Shots

Control Of Visual Attention During Basketball Free Throw

Stabilization of head and eyes on target as a factor in successful basketball shooting

What Does This All Mean?

To me, this is NOT a reason to trade Fox. This is not a reason to ‘bench’ Fox. Maybe a reason to keep him on the bench, situationally, if someone else is playing better, in his position. The above data should be a sign of OPTIMISM for the Kings and their fanbase. This abysmal start for De’Aaron Fox is not what the Kings hoped for, but really, the only way Fox can go is UP.

Fox is adjusting to the ‘new NBA foul regulations’. Those regulations should HELP Fox, a great player who regularly has not had the fortune of receiving many ‘veteran’ calls so far during his career. Now that those ‘veteran’ calls aren’t being made as often, Fox and the Kings should benefit.

And, even with those new regulations, as Fox gains more respect league-wide, he will most likely get more favorable calls from officials. That will lead to more attempts from the free-throw line, more time in the bonus for the Kings as a team, which will lead to more trips to the foul line, added pressure to the opponent on defense, and more WINS …. theoretically. If that makes sense. Optimism!

Adjustments

Some of this adjustment is also due to the Kings having a better roster than previous seasons. This is making Fox less of a focal point at all times on offense for the Kings. He also is now in his 5th season of flying to the rim, taking a pounding, and doing it over again. Fox will not be able to ‘make a living’ long term that way.

Also, as teams pack the paint, Fox will have to ADJUST. Have I mentioned the word adjust yet? He will have to do less of his high flying, and falling, and add more shooting and less dangerous/injury-prone moves to his game. And free throws! As Fox evolves, the Kings will improve.

The future is bright and optimistic for the Sacramento Kings and De’Aaron Fox!

Submit your questions to Tom Witt of the SacTown Crown Report

Go Kings!

-Tom Witt

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Tom Witt has been in sports media for just under a decade. He started off freelancing, earning a role as an editor and Sacramento Kings writer at Overtime Heroics.

He also is an avid Spikeball fan/competitor (roundnet is the name of the sport played on Spikeball equipment) - Tom is also the head editor at the Roundnet World blog.