3 Players who are benefitting from Kings’ unfortunate injury situation 

Sacramento Kings v Memphis Grizzlies
Sacramento Kings v Memphis Grizzlies / Justin Ford/GettyImages
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After last season’s fairytale success story, the Kings have been struggling a bit. Several teams in the West got better while the Kings stayed pretty much the same. The offense isn’t clicking like it did before, Kevin Huerter and Keegan Murray struggled from three, and defenses had plenty of time to figure the Kings out. 

Injuries have also plagued the team. At one point, Kevin Huerter, Malik Monk, Trey Lyles, and Sasha Vezenkov were all out at the same time. The latter two have since returned to the lineup, but Sacramento is still without two key players. 

Losing Monk has been an especially big blow to the team’s playoff hopes. Huerter going down was bad as well, but he wasn’t playing his best basketball before the injury, and replacing just one player is much easier than two. With both out, the team suddenly looked incredibly thin. 

It has presented an opportunity for other players to step up, however, so let’s look at three Kings who are benefitting from this unfortunate situation. 

3. Keon Ellis

The former two-way player burst on the scene long before Kevin Huerter’s injury. He impressed Mike Brown and his coaching staff with his competitiveness and defensive abilities. When Huerter went down with a serious shoulder injury, Keon Ellis was the obvious choice to replace him. 

Adding a defensive specialist to the starting lineup took pressure off De’Aaron Fox and Keegan Murray, changing the team’s identity. Offensively, the youngster does not have the same gravity as Huerter, but he is shooting around 40 percent from three and can put up big numbers every once in a while. 

Ellis can also impact games without scoring much, however, and the extended minutes he is seeing now are huge for him as well as the team. It would not be fair to ask someone in their first full NBA season to fully replace the offense more experienced players like Huerter and Monk can provide. The only way he will become more comfortable as a scorer while wreaking havoc defensively is through playing time. 

Developing him into a consistent two-way threat is important for the Kings’ present and future alike. Ellis is on an incredibly cheap contract for the next couple of seasons, and having a 3-and-D rotational player who doesn’t eat up much cap space is very valuable.