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30Q: Can Keon Ellis crack the rotation?

Ellis is a 3-and D guard, but has a hard path between him and regular minutes.
By | 38 Comments | Sep 28, 2022

Jul 3, 2022; San Francisco, CA, USA; Sacramento Kings guard Keon Ellis (34) dunks against the Miami Heat during the third quarter at the California Summer League at Chase Center. Mandatory Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Keon Ellis enters his rookie year on a two-way contract with the Sacramento Kings, allowing him an opportunity to bounce back and forth between Sacramento and the Stockton Kings. Expectations are generally low for two-way players, and they rarely see significant minutes with the main club unless there’s a slew of injuries ahead of them. And yet we’ve seen many teams unearth hidden gems via two-way deals and earn regular minutes. Could Keon Ellis be such a gem?

Ellis is highlighted in the latest episode of The Run, the behind the scenes look at the Kings season. It’s another really fun episode, and time permitting we’ll likely write more about it in the next day or two, but Ellis is certainly a highlight. You can watch the full episode here:

Ellis’s strengths are his defense and his shooting. Ellis is a tenacious and pesky defender, and shot 38.9% and 36.6% from 3 in his last two years of college, respectively. Every team in the league is looking for defenders who can shoot. If Ellis’ skills translate at the NBA level, he could be a steal as an undrafted player.

Ellis likely projects as a shooting guard at the NBA level, measuring 6’4.75″ with shoes at the combine, but his 6’8.5″ wingspan could give him the versatility to slide to the small forward spot in small ball lineups. But given the Kings current plethora of guards, it’s hard to see an easy path to minutes for Ellis. Luckily the two-way contract will allow him to practice with Sacramento and play plenty of minutes with Stockton to continue to develop and refine his game under the tutelage of Bobby Jackson.

It’s hard to see an immediate path to minutes for Keon Ellis, but his skill set could sneak him into the rotation as the season goes on. Maybe the Kings will finally strike on a diamond in the rough.

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Yakshi
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Nostradumbass 21
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September 28, 2022 5:33 pm

God, I hope so. The first time I see him play with Davion Mitchell in an NBA game, if that day ever comes, I’m sure I’ll be leaning forward in my chair.

Kosta
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September 28, 2022 5:44 pm
Reply to  Yakshi

Me, too! I love Davion, and now Keon, too. Ready to cheer him on.

If Davion and Keon get on the court together, the final score will be something like 21-20. In overtime. Kings win.

Last edited 1 year ago by Kosta
JackassCentral916
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September 28, 2022 7:14 pm
Reply to  Yakshi

I’m holding out hope for the improbable Davion/Ellis/Okpala lineup. I don’t care what the offense looks like.

Last edited 1 year ago by JackassCentral916
AnybodyButBagley
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September 28, 2022 7:33 pm

Probably the only NBA team that looks to the G league franchise to actively play a role on the actual NBA roster.

andy_sims
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September 28, 2022 8:54 pm

Yes, the rest only do it to sell 900 tickets a night in a tertiary market. The franchises spend all of the money for the love of the game, and to do something nice for people in Rapid City, South Dakota forty times a year.

Sacramento, on the other hand, tries to add players who could possibly become good enough to leap to the NBA. Like idiots. Because there aren’t any NBA players who’ve ever spent time in the D-League.

Good stuff, keep sharing.

AnybodyButBagley
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September 28, 2022 9:55 pm
Reply to  andy_sims

Did you read what I wrote?

“……G league franchise to actively play a role on the actual NBA roster.”

I understand they exist to develop players and are valuable. The Kings take it a little further by bringing G league players up with the expectation to help the team win now, not in the future after developing in the G league.

Keep sharing. Good stuff.

MichaelMack
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September 29, 2022 8:40 am

So you are saying the franchise expects Ellis to help them win now, even though they have Fox, Hueter, Monk, Mitchell, Davis, and the assorted veterans invited to camp ahead of him.

That is a unique perspective.

AnybodyButBagley
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September 29, 2022 6:03 pm
Reply to  MichaelMack

Yeah. The idea that a player on a two way contract will contribute to the NBA roster is a unique perspective.

That is the perspective of the Kings. Not mine.

Last edited 1 year ago by AnybodyButBagley
Kingsguru21
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September 29, 2022 10:42 am

Did you read what I wrote?

Sadly, I did. The issue is your statement A) isn’t true and B) when you use the word probably you’re not even 100% confident in the statements accuracy.

Thus, I’m still not sure what you meant other than to clearly bash the Kings for trying to use the G League to both find value and develop players to play at the NBA level. Which is, I’d point out, how good franchises DO use the G League. Unless you think the development for the Warriors, Clippers, Spurs, Raptors, and Heat are bad examples of good franchises who use the G league to find value.

AnybodyButBagley
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September 29, 2022 6:02 pm
Reply to  Kingsguru21

My opinion. Allowed to have one.

You make the mistake in assuming what you say is factual and worth reading.

If you are wondering if I read anything you wrote the answer is no.

Kingsguru21
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September 30, 2022 8:13 am

My opinion. Allowed to have one.

The sad truth is this is true.

andy_sims
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September 30, 2022 8:58 am
Reply to  Kingsguru21

No, it’s good that people can hold any opinion that they like. No matter how asinine and full of holes it may be.

Kingsguru21
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September 30, 2022 10:48 am
Reply to  andy_sims

You are misunderstanding because that is what I meant Sims. If nothing else I am a big proponent of free speech. That said, it’s a right that I wish some chose to exercise less often.

AnybodyButBagley
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September 30, 2022 12:58 pm
Reply to  Kingsguru21

You exercise it way too often.

AnybodyButBagley
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September 30, 2022 1:02 pm
Reply to  Kingsguru21

You and Sims are perfect for each other. Keep yourselves entertained.

AnybodyButBagley
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September 30, 2022 1:01 pm
Reply to  Kingsguru21

Copy….paste…..copy…..paste…..copy…..paste

Sacto_J
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September 30, 2022 10:36 am

Can we TRADE you?

AnybodyButBagley
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September 30, 2022 12:57 pm
Reply to  Sacto_J

Probably should have left this team many years ago.

Kingsguru21
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September 30, 2022 5:23 pm

Please, pretty please, for all that is holy, please do.

AnybodyButBagley
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September 30, 2022 9:27 pm
Reply to  Kingsguru21

Committed.

DutchKingsFanInUK
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September 29, 2022 5:20 am

Realistically, I don’t think he has much of a chance to get minutes.

As Greg already writes, he’s probably a SG at the NBA level. This means he is automatically behind Huerter and Monk in the rotation, simply because they are better players. Then there’s players like Davis and potentially even Bazemore who have proven more than him at the NBA level and will most likely be in front of him in the rotation. To add to that: Fox and Mitchell will probably spend time on the court together, which creates even less space for Ellis.

Best case scenario, he shows in training camp that he’s more valuable than Davis/Bazemore already. I don’t think that’s completely unrealistic: he has shown to be a better defender than both those guys, while probably being less well-rounded offensively than them. But even if he beats those two, his minutes for Sacramento will still be limited.

We’ll see how Brown decides, but the most important thing for Ellis will be getting minutes on the court. That means he should probably get on the floor as much as possible in Stockton, while getting some practice time in Sac.

andy_sims
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September 29, 2022 9:41 am

It’s tough to say what might happen in regard to the parent club, but Ellis has those couple of skills, defense and shooting, where he’s a good bet to play in the NBA. And it’s not as if he’s only got those two skills, he’s a decent ballhandler and distributor, and with his length and athleticism, I think he’s going to be able to give NBA wings all that they want.

Ellis spending most of the season in Stockton soaking up minutes and adding some muscle feels like it would be good use of the next twelve months, but like the rest of you, I really want to see him on the floor with Mitchell, driving ballhandlers out of their minds.

DutchKingsFanInUK
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September 29, 2022 10:52 am
Reply to  andy_sims

I would definitely ask to get subbed out if my backcourt mate and I would see Davion and Keon on the opposite side

BestHyperboleEver
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September 29, 2022 4:32 pm
Reply to  andy_sims

Unfortunately, they’d probably be driving us out of our minds at the other end.

That said, yeah, a year in Stockton with an eye on Ellis replacing Davis at the deadline or next season seems like a reasonable expectation.

AnybodyButBagley
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September 29, 2022 6:47 pm

The idea of Ellis taking time away from Davis is reasonably logical.

AnybodyButBagley
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September 29, 2022 6:17 pm
Reply to  andy_sims

You want to see an undrafted player on a two way contract replace the other players that the front office has determined are worthy of starting and playing the NBA.

That means the team is once again garbage because the talent evaluation and player selection is garbage again.

You want the team to lose if you want an undrafted G league player to be a defensive powerhouse playing real minutes. Hopefully the Kings have players better than him already on the NBA roster and will actually develop Ellis.

andy_sims
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September 30, 2022 9:03 am

How do you simultaneously hold these two opinions in your head at the same time?

  1. With a couple of exceptions, the Kings have terrible players. And
  2. They are simply irreplaceable under any circumstances.
AnybodyButBagley
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September 30, 2022 12:55 pm
Reply to  andy_sims

I do not hold those two opinions.

This team has been garbage because it’s roster has been garbage. Lack of actual NBA talent is a real thing. Real NBA teams are not relying on two way players contributing to wins.

Develop him. After development see if he can play in the NBA. This is great and normal use of the G league team.

Compare this to….we need a guard now….who is on the G league roster?

Real teams have a player with actual NBA talent and skills on the roster already.

andy_sims
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September 30, 2022 3:07 pm

Real teams have a player with actual NBA talent and skills on the roster already.

Meaning, the Kings literally have no players right now who should be playing in the NBA?

AnybodyButBagley
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September 30, 2022 9:31 pm
Reply to  andy_sims

If Ellis is needed to play on the NBA roster then yes. The idea is to develop undrafted two way players not start them.

If the Kings do not already have or cannot find someone better than Ellis then they have failed to build a team again.

Ellis might be great someday but if he is the player the Kings are relying on now then the organization has failed.

You don’t read very well.

Hippity_Hop_Barbershop
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September 29, 2022 8:11 am

This is why I hope the Kings can establish leads and HOLD them for once! Give these badass young guys more time towards the end.

BestHyperboleEver
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September 29, 2022 4:36 pm

Sadly, a big part of holding a lead is continuing to score. Aside from the last possession of quarters (which they should consider subbing those guys in for on defense), basketball isn’t a game you can play prevent in. You can certainly reduce the number of possessions a bit by slowing your pace, but even then you’re often shooting yourself in the foot by trying to score at the end of the shot clock.

AnybodyButBagley
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September 29, 2022 6:45 pm

Simply participating in the third quarter will help this immensely.

RobHessing
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September 29, 2022 8:55 am

I hope that Ellis develops into a player that can earn a core rotation role in the coming years. If we see much of him this year, either the entire NBA underestimated him or something has gone horribly wrong.

AnybodyButBagley
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September 29, 2022 6:12 pm
Reply to  RobHessing

The idea that a player on a two way contract is going to crack the roster and is needed to contribute at the NBA level is bad.

If Ellis is needed this year or out plays all of the other players In front of him real problems are happening.

aplumley
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September 29, 2022 9:32 am

Ellis and Queta are the type of 2-way players franchises should be developing. They both have upside. If either are relied upon for anything more than emergency injury call-ups or some unforeseen massive leap in performance, then there are bigger problems. Hopefully one or both of them show enough promise to become rotational players in the coming years. Just not this year. The Kings have depth at both positions that I cannot see either breaking through this year.

markdog333
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September 29, 2022 12:56 pm

How did Brenden not get to write the question about Keon? Or was it that he just kept sending in a one word answer; “Yes!”.

Sacto_J
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September 30, 2022 10:41 am

If he can crack the rotation, one would hope its because he’s shown that he’s consistently better than whoever was ahead of him in the rotation, which would mean his development has come along far quicker than anyone expected. I wouldn’t hate this, he plays hungry.

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