Keon Ellis is one of the Kings’ success stories this year. Coming into the season, he only had 16 NBA games under his belt, playing mostly just garbage time.
By now, he has already played 21 games, started 3, and is officially the Kings’ backup point guard (even though Malik Monk takes on a lot of the playmaking responsibilities), surpassing former lottery picks Davion Mitchell and Chris Duarte in the rotation.
Ellis is still on a two-way contract, however, which means that there are restrictions to his usage. Two-way players can only play in 50 regular season games and can’t suit up for the playoffs.
If one of your two backup guards can’t finish the season, that can be a real problem. In the playoffs, Mike Brown would likely go with a shorter rotation anyway and not play Ellis a lot, but injuries can always happen, and having him available could be important.
That alone is a reason for the Kings to convert Ellis’ contract to a standard NBA deal, but let’s look at three more reasons he deserves it.
3. He can contribute offensively
When the Kings started training camp, Davion Mitchell and Chris Duarte were two of the main guards/wings off the bench. Both struggled to contribute offensively, however, shooting less than 30 percent from three, creating little for others, and finding no other ways to have a positive impact.
That puts a lot of pressure on De’Aaron Fox, Domantas Sabonis, and Malik Monk, among others, to keep the offense going at all times. Both fell out of the rotation, and Keon Ellis came in because he can have an impact offensively.
Right now, he only averages 4.3 points per game, but he is shooting 35 percent from three and already scored more than 10 points in four games this season. Ellis is not always looking for his shot, but when the opportunity presents itself, he can score as well as handle the ball and push the pace, and that is a good quality to have coming off the bench.