3 Kings who need to step up so Sacramento can survive injuries to key players 

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2. Keon Ellis

In the last two years, Keon Ellis has gone from going undrafted to being on a two-way contract to signing a real NBA deal to playing huge minutes on a playoff team. Now, he will most likely be starting in Kevin Huerter’s place for a bit. 

Many fans have been calling for that for quite some time now. Ellis is a much better defender than Huerter—he just became the first Kings guard in the Sacramento era to record five blocks in a game—and plays with endless energy. 

The circumstances are unfortunate, but now is Ellis’ time to shine and grow as an NBA player. Offensively, he will have to hit open threes to keep defenses engaged because the floor spacing Huerter usually provides is incredibly important to the Kings’ system. On the other end, he will have to keep up the special brand of defense he has shown, getting steals and deflections, flying around the court, and being locked in. 

He has done all of that so far and impressed the coaching staff, his teammates, and fans alike. Games are starting to have more of a playoff atmosphere, however, and relying heavily on a young player in his first full NBA season can be tricky. 

Usually, Ellis looks very mature on the court, but his youth still comes out at times. Against the Knicks, Jalen Brunson caught him turning his head and scored in clutch time. Last night, in overtime, Ellis turned the ball over. He made up for it by blocking a three from Desmond Bane, but mistakes like that can be costly down the stretch.