De’Aaron Fox twisted his ankle Sunday night against the Lakers. Despite the injury, he came back into the game for the last six minutes of regulation to force overtime but had to give the reins to college teammate Malik Monk for the final moments.
Now, he is officially out against the Warriors tonight with a moderate ankle sprain. Moderate is the keyword here. Luckily, Fox avoided a serious injury and will be back soon.
Losing him for just a few games is a big blow, however. Over the first three games of the season, he averaged 31.3 points, 6 assists, 4.3 rebounds, and 1.3 steals. He was playing some of the best basketball of his career and that is tough to replace.
Backup point guard Davion Mitchell will fill in for Fox in the starting lineup, a move that also presents the chance for fans to get a look at Colby Jones off the bench.
For Mitchell, this is a big opportunity. He has been struggling offensively so far and hasn’t been playing many minutes as a result, so now he has a chance to get his offense going.
He is not the one who has to fill the scoring void, however. It would not be fair to ask that from him. Mitchell’s job right now is to run the offense, push the pace, guard Stephen Curry, and knock down some open threes. He just acknowledged after practice yesterday that the Warriors will likely give him open shots and he has to punish them.
While this is a big moment for Mitchell to solidify his position on the roster, he is not the only one who has to elevate his game. Other players need to carry a bigger load now, so here are three players who have to step up in Fox’s absence.
3. Keegan Murray
Keegan Murray looks like one of the NBA’s future stars. After breaking the record for most made threes in a rookie season and starting in a playoff series, he looks ready for a significant sophomore leap.
In his first NBA season, Murray was mostly a catch-and-shoot threat from behind the arc. Just three games into the new season, he is much more aggressive and expanding his offense. So far, he is averaging 16 points, 7.7 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 1.3 blocks, and 1.7 steals.
He is not only flashing his potential to be one of the top-three or top-two scoring options for the Kings in the future, but he is contributing to every aspect of the game. His activity on the boards is incredibly important for a team as undersized as the Kings, and his defensive effort should be a pleasure to see for Coach Mike Brown.
Now, it is time for Murray to step up his game even more. With Fox out and Mitchell sliding into the starting lineup there is a void to fill, giving Murray the chance to show that he can truly be a top scoring option. Harrison Barnes and Malik Monk are capable of having big games, but replacing Fox’s production has to be a group effort.
The Kings need Murray to be aggressive, put the ball on the floor, look for his shot, and compete on defense.