Chris Duarte’s season hasn’t been easy, but he is ready to keep fighting

San Antonio Spurs v Sacramento Kings
San Antonio Spurs v Sacramento Kings / Thearon W. Henderson/GettyImages

Chris Duarte’s NBA journey hasn’t been easy so far. He showed great potential as a rookie, averaging 13.1 points, 4.1 rebounds, 2.1 assists, and 1 steal, but then only played 46 games the next season due to injuries. 

Over that time, the Pacers developed an identity without him and decided to trade him to Sacramento for two second-round picks over the summer. Duarte had experience playing with Domantas Sabonis and showed promise as a 3-and-D wing. It was a low-risk move for the Kings but so far Duarte has not really made as much of an impact as many of us hoped. 

For a while, the newcomer took Kevin Huerter’s spot as the starting shooting guard and filled in for Keegan Murray when he was out with an injury. Coach Mike Brown clearly liked the energy Duarte brought to the court, but his threes weren’t falling, and he racked up fouls on defense. Eventually, he fell out of the rotation and had to watch several games from the bench. 

The 26-year-old stayed ready, however, and battled his way back onto the court. Desperate for some positive energy, Mike Brown turned to him late in the game against the Nuggets before the All-Star Break. 

Duarte only took two shots but made his presence felt otherwise and went home with the Defensive Player of the Game Crown. Coach Brown credited him with changing the momentum of the game and gave him another chance against the Spurs. In 20 minutes, the wing made two of his three shots from behind the arc, grabbed four rebounds, and battled on defense. 

Chris Duarte is determined to keep fighting 

Brown gives chances to his players to prove themselves, and Duarte seems to have earned another shot by staying ready. By now, this seems to be a theme with this roster. It’s how Alex Len earned his minutes, and Keon Ellis played his way into a standard NBA contract. 

During practice, Brown commented on his team’s mindset.

“It’s their job. They get paid the same whether they play five games or they play fifty games…you hope that you have a [professional] group as that and our group definitely is,” he told reporters

Duarte was asked about staying ready and his tough season so far as well and had a very positive answer ready. 

“That’s part of life,” he said. “There’s a lot of ups and downs; you just gotta stay with it, find a way to keep fighting.”

Duarte wants to play and help his team win, which he has shown he can do, and he is ready to keep battling for minutes.