Mike Brown hints at changes for the Kings: “Nobody’s position on this team is sacred.”

Sacramento Kings v Houston Rockets
Sacramento Kings v Houston Rockets / Carmen Mandato/GettyImages

Ever since De’Aaron Fox went down with an ankle injury, things have been looking bleak for the Kings. They dropped all three games they played without their All-Star point guard, including two ugly ones against the Houston Rockets due to some massively disappointing performances.

Even though the Rockets upgraded their roster over the summer, the Kings should have been the better team. Instead, they fell apart completely, couldn’t guard anyone, and failed to get the 100-point mark twice in a row, and that hints at some bigger issues. 

Yes, the Kings are missing a lot of scoring with Fox on the bench, but their lack of energy and offensive movement has nothing to do with his absence. From a lot of players, there simply seems to be a lack of effort. 

After leading the league last season, the Kings are now 18th in scoring with an average of 110.5 points per game. They can’t hit their shots, without Fox they can’t get to the rim, and they can’t push the pace because they can’t get any stops. Defensively, the Kings rank 22nd right now, which is still bad and won’t do them any good if they can’t score. 

With Fox, things look a little different. He competes defensively, and the starting five with him at the point averaged 120.4 points per 100 possessions. When Davion Mitchell is the starting point guard, that number drops to 92.4 points, and that is a problem. 

No one expected Mitchell to pick up the scoring load. All he had to do was defend, push the pace, and lead the charge while others stepped up in the scoring department. In the last two games, none of that happened. Barely anyone is defending, no one is moving, and no one is hustling.

None of the main guys at least. After Monday’s game, Coach Mike Brown credited the effort the guys normally at the end of the bench showed compared to the rest of the team. Domantas Sabonis was outplayed by 21-year-old Alperen Sengun, Harrison Barnes might as well have stayed at home, and Malik Monk got into foul trouble after stepping up as the guy in the previous game. 

Meanwhile, Keon Ellis came off the bench when the game was already lost but still played hard. He finished the game with 15 points in less than 15 minutes of playing time, leading the team in scoring. 

Jordan Ford scored as many points as Mitchell in just under 9 minutes on the floor and Colby Jones doubled that number in just barely 13 minutes. In his postgame interview, Brown mentioned them and some of the other bench guys as the only ones to show what he wanted to see. 

Mike Brown’s postgame comments hint at some possible changes

“I’m going to go back and watch the film, and if I feel the same way after the film, then I gotta make sure that I keep trying to put five guys out there that are going to do what we ask, which is to play together and play the right way while playing fast and bringing a sense of physicality,” he told reporters. Later, he added, “If you earn a chance to play, I gotta play you. Nobody’s position on this team is sacred.” 

It is easy to say that we’re only six games into the season, and the injuries to Fox and Trey Lyles have made it tough to find a rhythm, but that is not good enough. Yes, Fox does a lot for them offensively, and going from Lyles as your backup four to Sasha Vezenkov, who is still getting used to the NBA is a big step down. 

Effort, pride, and defense have nothing to do with that, though. They are still off to a similar start as last season so it is probably not time to hit the panic button yet but this year expectations are much higher. Last season, the Kings were one of the top teams in the West. Now, they aren’t even playing like a playoff team, and that is concerning. 

According to his comments after Monday’s game, Brown feels the same way. So, he might make some changes to lineups and rotations if he feels it will improve the team’s play. This could include inserting Malik Monk into the starting five while Fox is out, giving a bigger role to Colby Jones, or even moving some of the end-of-the-bench guys into the rotations. 

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Tonight, the Kings will face the Portland Trail Blazers once again without Fox and Lyles. The Blazers will be without Scoot Henderson, Anfernee Simons, Ish Wainright, and Robert Williams III, according to the NBA’s injury report. Despite their horrific play in the last two games, this is a game the Kings should be able to win, and we might see some significant changes to ensure that it happens.