As one of the healthiest teams last season, the Kings found great continuity. Once everyone got used to each other and Mike Brown knew what he had, we didn’t see many lineup changes.
The rotation was established, and only very few times someone had to step into a role they weren’t used to. This season is a little different.
New pieces, like Chris Duarte, JaVale McGee, and Sasha Vezenkov had to be introduced to Kings basketball, and the injury bug hit early. De’Aaron Fox missed extended time already, Trey Lyles just made his season debut two games ago, and now Alex Len, Keon Ellis, and Keegan Murray are injured as well.
This means that because of the new additions Mike Brown is still experimenting with lineups, and because of the injuries, players had to step out of their comfort zone. So, let’s look at five intriguing lineups the Kings have played so far this season.
5. Keon Ellis, Kevin Huerter, Keegan Murray, Harrison Barnes, Domantas Sabonis
This lineup has played a total of 71 possessions in the wake of Fox’s injury at this point. At first, it was more of a desperation move by Mike Brown. When Fox went down, Davion Mitchell was the next man up.
The starting lineup with him running the point was not good. They had a negative efficiency differential or -19.1, allowing almost 20 points more than they scored per 100 possessions. After two terrible losses to the Houston Rockets, Mike Brown put Keon Ellis in Mitchell’s place, and it worked.
The game was faster, and even though turnover-prone, the lineup still outscored opponents by 8.5 points, which is what makes it so intriguing. When your starting point guard is a two-way player with little NBA experience, especially as the primary ballhandler, you don’t necessarily expect that lineup to do well.
It wasn’t mind-blowing—with Fox in the lineup, the starters outscore opponents by 18 points—but Ellis held his own and made a real case to stay in the rotation. Unless Fox goes down again, we shouldn’t expect to see him in many more starts, but once he returns from injury, he will hopefully continue to see minutes.