Former Cats backcourt works wonders for NBA’s Sacramento Kings

Published 3:00 pm Friday, May 12, 2023

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The Sacramento Kings won 48 games this year and took Golden State to Game 7 in the first round of the NBA playoffs — a dramatic improvement over last season’s 32-win total.

Three former Kentucky players — All-star guard De’Aaron Fox, guard Malik Monk and forward Trey Lyles — all played key roles for the Kings and that did not surprise John Calipari.

“I know this, all three of them will fight,” Calipari told Luke Clearly of ABC -TV10 in Sacramento.

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Monk and Fox were teammates on the 2017 UK team that reached the Elite Eight. Lyles was a starter on the 38-1 team in 2014-15.

“What I loved about (Fox) was he was able to just go get a basket. Do you understand how much as a coach that takes off your plate?” Calipari said.

What about Monk?

“The biggest thing is, they’ve always loved each other and love playing together,” Calipari said of the duo.”They know each other, they trust each other. They love each other and they got a will to win. You never had to draw up a play for Monk. He could score.”

Fox’s 192 points in his playoff series debut against Golden State were the most ever behind only LeBron James’ 214 points in 2006.

Fox averaged 25 points, 6.1 assists, 4.2 rebounds and 1.1 steals per game during the 73-game regular season while Monk contributed 13.5 points, 3.9 assists and 2.6 rebounds per game in 77 games. Lyles played in 74 games and added 6.7 points, 2.2 rep bounds and 1.0 assists in just 16.9 minutes per game.