3 Players who failed to step up with the Kings’ season on the line

Sacramento Kings v New Orleans Pelicans - Play-In Tournament
Sacramento Kings v New Orleans Pelicans - Play-In Tournament / Chris Graythen/GettyImages
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We all knew that fighting their way through two Play-In Tournament games would be tough for the Kings, but, after the great performance they put on against the Warriors, it is still disappointing that their season is over now. 

The Kings were supposed to take a step forward after last season’s success. Missing the playoffs is not that, especially if we consider the implications that will have for the team’s future. This season has made clear that the Kings need to upgrade their starting lineup. On top of that, Malik Monk might be playing for another team next season. 

Having to replace him while still upgrading the starting lineup would already be difficult if the Kings had plenty of picks to trade. Since they will not make the playoffs, the top-14 protected first-round pick they still owe the Atlanta Hawks will not convey, and they won’t be able to trade any of their 2025-2027 first-round picks. 

This summer will be rough for the Kings, especially with the bad taste of yet another brutal loss to the Pelicans still in their mouths. New Orleans is a bad matchup, and the Kings were missing Monk and Kevin Huerter. While those are both fair points, this loss is still a massive disappointment. We watched other players step up before, but not last night. 

So, let’s look at three players who failed to step up with the Kings’ season on the line. 

3. Keon Ellis

Keon Ellis’ prime responsibility for the Kings is defense, but he has also shown the ability to be an offensive threat. He was amazing on both ends of the floor against the Warriors and a big part of the Kings’ win. It may not be fair to expect a former two-way player in his first full NBA season to play lock-down defense while putting up around 15 points when the team is facing elimination, but the Kings needed Ellis to do that last night. 

Without Kevin Huerter and Malik Monk, Ellis was one of the players who had to step up most. He needed to hit open shots, get steals and deflections, and battle every second of the game.

Instead, Ellis finished the game with only 1 assist, 2 blocks, 1 turnover, and 4 fouls, missing all five of his shot attempts. This season has been a huge success for Ellis, as he secured a standard NBA contract and took the first steps towards building a reputation as a 3-and-D talent. 

Yesterday, he failed to step up, however, ending his magical rise through the NBA ranks on a sour note. Now, it is the offseason for Ellis, and he has plenty of work to do. The Kings will need him next season, especially if Monk leaves, so it would be great if he could come back with a more secure offensive arsenal.