Mike Brown might just have a new favorite Kings player

Memphis Grizzlies v Sacramento Kings
Memphis Grizzlies v Sacramento Kings / Lachlan Cunningham/GettyImages

If you asked Mike Brown who his favorite Kings player is, he probably wouldn’t give you a name. After all, he wouldn’t want his squad to think that certain players are getting special treatment. 

Obviously, everyone knows that De’Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis have a longer leash on the court than anyone else but Coach Brown doesn’t treat them any differently. Brown holds his stars accountable like any other player, expecting leadership, commitment, and hard work on and off the court from them. 

Indirectly, his words suggest a recently formed infatuation with one of his players, however. After yesterday’s game in Toronto, Brown was outright raving about Keon Ellis and his emergence as a defensive game-changer. 

“His skill set is unique. His arms are a lot longer than what you’d think. His anticipation and his feel for a young guy…never been around it—not for a second-year guy that played in the G League in his whole first year and got limited minutes. I’ve been in the league 37 years, and I can’t fully grasp it because he’s so young, but he plays like an old soul,” he said, adding that the youngster’s defensive skill set and tools might be “second to none”. 

Keon Ellis is exactly the kind of player Mike Brown likes to have on his team

All season long, Mike Brown has been urging his players to be physical on defense and compete every single possession. Still on a two-way contract to start the season, Keon Ellis answered the call. 

Playing exactly the brand of basketball Brown wanted to see, he sneaked into the rotation, earned a standard contract, and is now starting on a potential playoff team. It started with Brown giving Ellis a huge chunk of Kevin Huerter’s minutes lately, still believing that defense would push his team to the next level. 

Then, Huerter went down with an unfortunate shoulder injury, and Ellis stepped into the starting lineup for the seventh time this season. His defensive activity has completely changed the team’s identity, and Mike Brown isn’t the only one enamored with the 24-year-old. In just one season, Ellis has become a true fan favorite and gained the respect of his teammates. 

Veteran Harrison Barnes told reporters after the much-needed win in Toronto, “I remember one of the very first days that Keon was with us in camp as a two-way. I saw him play a little bit, and I was like, he’s gonna be an NBA player.” 

His journey has not been easy, but just two years after going undrafted and signing a two-way contract to keep his NBA hopes alive, a whole city is buzzing with Keon Ellis’ name.