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Crediting Damian Lillard For His ‘Welcome To The NBA’ Moment, De’Aaron Fox Reveals His Excitement Over Facing Stephen Curry And Dame

Jay Mahesh Lokegaonkar

Crediting Damian Lillard For His 'Welcome To The NBA' Moment, De'Aaron Fox Reveals His Excitement Over Facing Stephen Curry And Dame

The NBA’s reigning Clutch Player of the Year, De’Aaron Fox, has continued from where he left off last season and has had another All-Star caliber season. The 26-year-old Sacramento Kings superstar’s reputation continues to ascend as he looks to establish himself among the upper echelon of NBA guards. On Thursday, Fox and his teammate Domantas Sabonis interviewed on NBA TV to discuss the Kings’ season so far. He was asked who he looks forward most to matching up with, he replied:

“It’s Steph and Dame. Steph’s 10 years older than me, and Dame is 8-9 years older than me. So being able to see those guys play in the league for so long and now going in and matching up with them [is what I look forward to].”

“I would say, even to this day, Dame is the hardest player I have to guard. He gave us 50 in three quarters.”

Fox revealed he also holds Lillard in high regard because the Milwaukee Bucks superstar gave him his ‘Welcome to the NBA’ moment. He spoke about it during an appearance on JJ Redick’s The Old Man and The Three podcast in 2020.

During Fox’s rookie year in 2017-18, the Portland Trail Blazers and Sacramento Kings met four times in the regular season. Then-Trail Blazers superstar Lillard averaged 25.6 points against Sacramento in the teams’ first three meetings. However, in the fourth, he scored 50 points in only 29 minutes. He shot 8-for-13 from beyond the arc in a blowout win for the Trail Blazers. Fox recalled how the Kings had no answer for the superstar guard:

“We were throwing everything at him. When he was coming off the pick, we were blitzing him, and man, he made the game look so easy, and you see what he’s doing right now. He’s pulling up from halfcourt. He was already doing that, so I’m like, ‘There is nothing I can do. I don’t know what you want me to do to stop this man.'”

When Lillard finds his groove, he’s among the hardest players in the league to contain. He has 15 games with at least 50 points, which ranks sixth in NBA history. Los Angeles Clippers superstar James Harden is the only active player with more 50-point games than Lillard. He has 23.

For Fox to be itching to compete against that class of player, and one even higher in Stephen Curry, speakers volumes about him. Being the leader of a young Kings’ side, the 26-year-old is well aware of how good he and his team can be against even the very best in the NBA. And given their competitive drive, the franchise looks likely to make it happen on the biggest stage very soon. The Sacramento Kings’ 2024 NBA Playoffs run will be one to watch.

De’Aaron Fox and Kings’ ascend to Western Conference elites

The Sacramento Kings were among the worst teams in the NBA for over a decade and a half. They went 16 straight seasons without a playoff appearance between 2006 and 2023. Their playoff drought until 2023 was the longest active streak in American pro sports. Fox was on the team for five of those 16 seasons.

Fox and the Kings won more than 35 games only once in their first five seasons together. However, they finally snapped the streak last campaign. They finished 48-34 in the regular season to surprise everyone and grab the third seed ahead of the 2023 NBA Playoffs. Fox was the biggest difference-maker for his team, as he averaged 25 points, 6.1 assists, and 4.6 rebounds. More impressively, he led the lead in clutch points (points scored in the final five minutes of the fourth quarter or overtime when the score was within five points) and scored massive buckets late in games for the Kings.

Their first playoff appearance since 2006 was short-lived. They lost 4-3 in their first-round series against the Golden State Warriors. Despite the bitter disappointment of falling at the first hurdle in the playoffs, the Kings had gotten the monkey off their backs.

This season, Fox and the Kings are proving their run last was no fluke. They are 17-12 and fifth in the Western Conference standings. Fox is having a career year. The seventh-year star is averaging 30.2 points, 6.1 assists, and 4.6 rebounds. He’s fifth in the race for the scoring title and in line to earn a second-straight All-Star nod.

It was tough sledding for Fox in his first five seasons in the league. The fifth overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft had to exercise patience, but it paid off. With Malik Monk along with many others beside him now, Fox has made the Kings a stellar team.

About the author

Jay Mahesh Lokegaonkar

Jay Mahesh Lokegaonkar


Jay Lokegaonkar is a basketball journalist who has been following the sports as a fan 2005. He has worked in a slew of roles covering the NBA, including writer, editor, content manager, social media manager, and head of content since 2018. However, his primary passion is writing about the NBA. Especially throwback stories about the league's iconic players and franchises. Revisiting incredible tales and bringing scarcely believable stories to readers are one his main interests as a writer.

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