Kessler Edwards came to the Kings at last season’s trade deadline, and Coach Brown gave him an opportunity almost right away. Over the regular season, he averaged 13.9 minutes per game, but once the playoffs rolled around, he fell out of the rotation.
Since then, he never made it back in. The additions of Chris Duarte and Sasha Vezenkov over the summer relegated him to the end of the bench. At 5.5 minutes per game, he is averaging the least minutes among all Kings players on a standard contract.
In the Kings’ system, that doesn’t necessarily mean anything, however. Mike Brown is not afraid to make big changes. To start the season, Davion Mitchell was the backup point guard, and Chris Duarte and JaVale McGee were two of the main players off the bench.
By now, Mitchell and Duarte have fallen out of the rotation, and McGee lost minutes to Trey Lyles and Alex Len before he got injured. Keon Ellis and Sasha Vezenkov, on the other hand, were not part of the plan at first and are now major pieces in the rotation.
For Vezenkov that was only a matter of time, but Ellis had to work a little harder for his minutes. In a blowout loss against the Rockets, Ellis got a chance to play extended minutes, took full advantage of it, and hasn’t slowed down since.
During Wednesday’s loss to the Celtics, the third unit got some minutes, and when asked if anyone stood out, Coach Brown mentioned Kessler Edwards.
“A guy that always plays hard and tries to play the right way is Kessler, and I always try to find an opportunity to throw him in the game to see if he can build upon it. He’s a guy that has consistently done it. There just hadn’t been as many opportunities for him as I’d like,” he told reporters.
Mike Brown seems to be looking for minutes for Edwards
Edwards has only seen over 10 minutes of action in four games this season: the second loss to the Rockets, the following win over the Blazers, a blowout loss to the Pelicans, and a quality win over the Timberwolves.
The last might just have been his best game in a Kings jersey. With Keegan Murray out, he got a chance to play 18 minutes. He guarded well, grabbed two rebounds, and scored 10 points on very efficient shooting.
Coach Brown usually likes to reward players who step up like that but for Edwards that has not happened yet. The aforementioned quote suggests that that could change soon, however.
With Chris Duarte not playing anymore, the Kings could certainly use another capable defender in the rotation, and Edwards is the guy for that. Plus, if you’re looking for a big trade, showcasing your young players is never a bad idea.
Mitchell is losing value with every DNP, and just size- and position-wise, Edwards is a more interesting prospect for most teams anyway. For the game tonight, against the Suns, JaVale McGee and Malik Monk are both listed as questionable while Colby Jones, Jordan Ford, and Jalen Slawson are all playing with the G League.
Even if Monk and McGee suit up while not feeling the best, this could open up an opportunity for Edwards to get some good minutes, especially considering that someone will have to guard Kevin Durant. Other than Keegan Murray, the Kings don’t really have any real options in the rotation.