This was De’Aaron Fox’s moment to shine, his time to showcase his skills to the Los Angeles Lakers during Tuesday’s pre-draft workout, his time to give the team a reason to use its No. 2 pick in the NBA Draft on the Kentucky point guard.
Fox knows the competition at his position is Washington point guard Markelle Fultz and UCLA point guard Lonzo Ball, who are expected to go first and second, respectively, in the June 22 draft.
Perhaps, Fox was asked after his solo workout, he was motivated by that?
“Umm, I mean, yeah,” Fox responded. “You can say that about anybody. But, right now I’m just worried about myself. I’m not really worried about those guys.”
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Every draft projection seemingly has Fultz going first to Boston and Ball second to the Lakers.
During a head-to-head encounter between the two freshmen when both were in college, Fox was more of a force than Ball. Fox directed Kentucky past Ball and UCLA 86-75 in the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16.
Fox clearly outplayed Ball, scoring 39 points to Ball’s 10.
Still, Fox downplayed that point, saying that game shouldn’t be a consideration for the Lakers to take him over Ball.
“It doesn’t matter .... It’s college. We put that behind us,” Fox said, citing the 2011 draft experiences of Kyrie Irving and Isaiah Thomas. “Kyrie was the No. 1 pick and Isaiah was the last pick, and you see how that really worked out. They both are playing an extremely high level of basketball. So that doesn’t really matter. College doesn’t matter at this point.”
Ball worked out for the Lakers last week. Fultz is expected to meet with the Lakers later this week. And the Lakers worked out Kansas forward Josh Jackson later Tuesday afternoon.
Most NBA experts expect Fox to be drafted after that threesome, going to Phoenix fourth or Sacramento fifth.
“We’re all going to get drafted no matter what,” Fox said. “So, we’ll be playing. You just want to see the NBA career. College is over. I just kind of put that behind me.”
The knock on Fox has been his poor shooting.
He made just 24.6 percent of his three-pointers at Kentucky. He shot 47.8 percent overall and averaged 16.7 points and 4.6 assists during his one season with the Wildcats.
Fox, who is 6-foot-3 and 187 pounds, has been working on his shooting, something he knows the Lakers wanted to see.
“When someone says something is a weakness, you want to try to turn it into a strength,” Fox said. “If there’s anything, it’s really my body and shooting. That’s what I’ve been working on this summer.”
The plan was for Fox to have lunch with Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson, GM Rob Pelinka, Coach Luke Walton and other team brass after the workout.
Fox worked out for the Sacramento Kings and has more auditions scheduled.
No team has made any promises to Fox about drafting him.
“I haven’t gotten assurances from anyone,” Fox said. “You never know what’s going to happen on draft night.”