SACRAMENTO (AP) — The Sacramento Kings selected Kentucky point guard De’Aaron Fox on Thursday night with the fifth pick in the NBA draft.
Sacramento had a glaring need for a point guard with Darren Collison, Ty Lawson and Langston Galloway all headed to unrestricted free agency next month and general manager Vlade Divac pounced when Fox was available.
Fox is extremely quick and a skilled ball handler who showed the ability to get to the basket in his one season at Kentucky. He boosted his stock when he outplayed UCLA’s Lonzo Ball in the Sweet Sixteen, scoring 39 points in a Wildcats win.
Fox averaged 16.7 points, 4.6 assists and 4.0 rebounds per game. His biggest weakness is his outside shot after hitting just 24.6 percent of his 3-pointers last season.
This marked the fourth time since 2010 that the Kings came out of the draft with a first-round player from Kentucky. They drafted center DeMarcus Cousins in 2010, big man Willie Cauley-Stein in 2015 and swapped picks last year to end up with center Skal Labissiere.
The Kings are once again looking to rebuild after missing the playoffs for an 11th straight season. They traded away star Cousins during the season to New Orleans and stumbled to the finish in a 32-50 season under first-year coach Dave Joerger.
By cutting ties with Cousins, Sacramento is trying to build around a core led by young players like Cauley-Stein, Labissiere and Buddy Hield in hopes of developing a team worthy of the fancy new downtown arena that opened last season.
The Kings also had the 10th overall pick, acquired in the deal for Cousins, but they traded the pick to the Portland Trailblazers for the 15th and 20th pick.
The roster figures to be extremely young next season with only three players signed who are not on rookie contracts. Guards Arron Afflalo and Garrett Temple and center Kosta Koufos are the only veterans on the roster.
Forward Rudy Gay declined his $14.3 million option to become an unrestricted free agent, Galloway declined his $5.4 million option to become a restricted free agent and the team waived Anthony Tolliver earlier this month.