Kings guard De’Aaron Fox was named the runaway winner of the NBA’s inaugural Jerry West Clutch Player of the Year Award on Tuesday night, capping a stellar season for the sixth-year player who has had a huge part in Sacramento’s dramatic resurgence this season.
Fox earned 91 out of 100 possible first-place votes and 460 out of a possible 500 total points in winning the award, which he’d been seen as the massive favorite to take home. He was followed in the voting by Miami Heat forward Jimmy Butler (one first-place vote, 104 total points) and Chicago Bulls forward DeMar DeRozan (80 total points).
Several players received a first-place vote, including New York Knicks guard Jalen Brunson, Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid, Cleveland Cavaliers guard Donovan Mitchell, Oklahoma City Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Dallas Mavericks guard Kyrie Irving and Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry, who received two first-place votes.
Fox, who led the NBA in clutch scoring with 194 total points, spearheaded countless late-game surges this season, propelling Sacramento to not only its first playoff berth in nearly 20 years but the third overall seed in the Western Conference. His late-game heroics have since staked Sacramento to a 2-0 lead in its best-of-seven first-round series against its Northern California rivals, and the NBA’s defending champions, the Warriors.
“You can’t be afraid to fail,” Fox said on the TNT broadcast of the announcement. “Obviously, you’re not going to make every shot, but my teammates, my coaches, they put me in position to succeed. So the least I can do is have confidence in myself to take good shots.”
Fox averaged career highs in points per game (25.0) as well as field goal percentage (51.2). DeRozan and Butler, meanwhile, finished second and third, respectively, in the NBA in clutch scoring this season behind Fox.
“My teammates and my team put me in position to succeed,” Fox said.
This marked the first season the Jerry West award was handed out, named for one of the sport’s all-time great players who was known for his clutch heroics throughout his Hall of Fame career with the Los Angeles Lakers. The award was part of the league’s rebranding of the awards process, including renaming several of the trophies as well as redesigning them.
Fox was the second award winner to be announced in as many days, after Memphis Grizzlies forward Jaren Jackson Jr. earned his first Defensive Player of the Year award Monday night. The NBA will announce its Coach of the Year winner — heavily expected to be Fox’s coach, Mike Brown — Wednesday, followed by its Sixth Man of the Year award Thursday.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.