After being taken with the fifth pick, De’Aaron Fox described the 2017 NBA Draft as an other-worldly experience.
“It’s like the world lifted off your shoulders,” he said of being picked by the Sacramento Kings Thursday. “Like there’s zero gravity. I feel like I’m flying out.”
Fox was one of three UK players taken among the first 14 picks. Malik Monk was taken by the Charlotte Hornets with the 11th pick. Three picks later, the Miami Heat took Bam Adebayo.
Although he was the third point guard taken, following Markelle Fultz and Lonzo Ball as the first two selections, Fox said he would get no motivation from that.
“It doesn’t matter what order we get picked in,” he said. “The motivation is already there. We’re all going to the NBA. There’s motivation every game. You’re always playing a great point guard. But is it more motivation? Not really. You’re just going in and playing basketball.”
Monk, who hoped to be taken by the New York Knicks with the eighth pick, said he found motivation in dropping to No. 11.
Monk expressed joy at playing alongside Kemba Walker in Charlotte, plus having Michael Jordan as the guiding light of the franchise.
With the garish lighting and thirst for big money in the air, the NBA Draft again had the feel of a casino.
The trade rumors made a mockery of the various mock drafts. Until Commissioner Adam Silver called the draft to a semblance of order, it was hard to know the order of teams making picks, let alone which players would be selected.
Fultz was the first player from the Washington, D.C., area to be the first overall pick since Austin Carr in 1971.
With the second pick, the Los Angeles Lakers took Lonzo Ball of UCLA. Past second overall picks include Kevin Durant (2007) and Jason Kidd (1994), the latter often compared to Ball.
Fox had said his speed was his best attribute.
“You can’t really teach speed,” he said. “You have speed trainers and things like that. But sometimes a person is fast or they’re not. That’s just a valuable asset if you’re just plain outrunning people. . . . I didn’t even know I was that fast until Coach Cal kept telling me to run.”
On Wednesday, Fox had said he considered himself the best point guard.
“I feel like I’m the best (point guard),” Fox said. “They’re all great players . . . But they would say the same thing about themselves.”
“Of course, I feel I’m the best player in the draft,” Fox said. “No one should think any less of themselves.”
Overall, Fox said he found the draft experience surreal.
“I graduated June 4 from high school,” he said. “So it’s been a year and almost three weeks. I was at Kentucky June 7.
Monk said that NBA teams wanted to see how well he could handle the ball in workouts.
Monk said he sacrificed that part of his game at Kentucky.
“I could have done way more. But I let Fox do all that. (PG?) Yeah, I can. I feel comfortable playing one or two. But we had De’Aaron Fox, so I was fine.”
Monk promised to be a great listener and a great learner with the Hornets.
“Wherever I go, I’m going to ask questions,” he said. “Hopefully, I’ll have a great veteran there.”
Walker fills that role.
“I’ll feel relief,” Monk said of being drafted, “and (be) thankful that all this pressure and stuff will be over.”
Top 10 picks
1. Markelle Fultz, 76ers
2. Lonzo Ball, Lakers
3. Jayson Tatum, Celtics
4. Josh Jackson, Suns
5. De’Aaron Fox, Kings
6. Jonathan Isaac, Magic
7. Lauri Markkanen, Timberwolves (to Bulls)
8. Frank Ntilikina, Knicks
9. Dennis Smith Jr., Mavericks
10. Zach Collins, Kings