There’s been some legendary gutty performances in Sacramento Kings playoff history. Peja Stojakovic played on a sprained ankle in the 2002 Western Conference Finals. Brad Miller played on a recently-broken leg in 2005. And Domantas Sabonis overcame a devastating bruised sternum to gut it out in Games 3 and 4 last weekend.
Now, De’Aaron Fox will be joining that fraternity, announcing that his fractured left index finger won’t keep him from playing in Game 5 against the Golden State Warriors Wednesday night.
Kings star De’Aaron Fox says today that he plans to play in Game 5 vs. Warriors while dealing with the fractured left index finger on shooting hand. https://t.co/Klgac1DN77— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) April 25, 2023
Fox suffered an avulsion fracture to the tip of his left index finger, which is his shooting hand. That injury means that one of the muscles at the fingertip has pulled away from a small piece of bone. Fox was practicing shooting free throws on Tuesday with a splint on the finger, though his availability might depend on how well he can dribble with his finger wrapped.
De’Aaron Fox shooting free throws at the far end of the court pic.twitter.com/SczQCVl92T— Kings on NBCS (@NBCSKings) April 25, 2023
There’s precedent for a player succeeding in spite of this injury. The most famous example is Kobe Bryant, who played the entire 2010 playoffs with an avulsion fracture to his finger, which he treated with a splint, and later a tape job developed by Lakers trainer Gary Vitti.
Fox’s mood heading into game 5? pic.twitter.com/EW5DtMgMRH— Nate Jones (@JonesOnTheNBA) April 24, 2023
Will it affect Fox’s shooting and ballhandling? It’s hard to think the injury won’t, but Sacramento likely thinks an injured Fox is better than whoever might replace him. The Warriors, too, would probably rather take their chances with Davion Mitchell or Malik Monk running the Kings’ fast-paced offense.
It also comes down to Fox’s ability to play through the pain, but he hasn’t showed any hesitation to take physical contact during this series. We’ll see how he reacts the first time Draymond Green of Andrew Wiggins hits his injured hand while slapping at the ball. And not necessarily in a dirty way! Fingers get hit all the time in unexpected ways - Fox isn’t even sure whether it was Wiggins or Jordan Poole who hit his hand in the first place.
Here is De’Aaron Fox explaining his finger injury in great detail. Said it was initially whacked by Wiggins/Poole and he first felt it on that floater near Kevon Looney. pic.twitter.com/niq3s01OmU— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) April 25, 2023
Don’t rule out the deceptively-strong Poole, who gave Ja Morant a bone bruise last playoffs, according to the highly dubious claims of Memphis coach Taylor Jenkins. But it apparently wasn’t the fault of Kevon Looney, whose contact to Fox’s finger only confirmed to Fox that he was hurt.
This appears to be the play that De'Aaron Fox fractured his left index finger in the middle of the fourth quarter yesterday. On a floater after the whistle. Looks like it clips Kevon Looney's hand. First time you see him clutch at it. pic.twitter.com/0Ip5YWbw8g— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) April 24, 2023
But the Warriors shouldn’t take even an injured Fox lightly, considering he scored seven points and grabbed two rebounds after the fracture. He also hit a giant three-pointer to cut the Warriors’ lead to a single point late.
De’Aaron Fox hit this clutch three with a broken finger pic.twitter.com/m1LK9pSmFb— Cameron Salerno (@cameronsalerno1) April 24, 2023
The Kings will need all ten of Fox’s fingers to defeat the Warriors. Klay Thompson, however, only needs four to show people how many rings he has.