Colby Jones & Keon Ellis on making the most of their opportunities
Oct 16, 2023, 12:34 PM | Updated: 3:05 pm
(Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)
NBA preseason is a time to let most players get back into regular season form.
For others, preseason is a chance to show why they deserve extended looks on the floor, something that Sacramento Kings rookie guard Colby Jones and second-year guard Keon Ellis are working towards as we close in on Oct. 25th’s season-opener.
Jones and Ellis benefited from playing some minutes against the Golden State Warriors on Sunday night in a game that went to overtime in front of a packed house at Golden 1 Center.
Both players spoke to the media following Sacramento’s narrow defeat to share what they have learned thus far in preseason and how they view themselves as players that can help this Kings team.
Jones continues to make the most of his preseason minutes, as the Xavier product scored eight points on four-of-seven shooting from the field, dished out two assists, and played active defense over 15 minutes of action during Sunday’s game against the Warriors.
While Jones might not crack the opening night rotation, his two-way skillset could be an intriguing addition to head coach Mike Brown’s rotation if Sacramento needs another defensive presence in the lineup.
“I just have to get in better shape so I can play how I’m supposed to play for longer minutes,” Jones said of his performance against the Warriors. “I feel like I’m just getting more and more comfortable every day, and that’s my main goal right now.”
Jones looks poised for a rookie, but the 21-year-old says his calm demeanor on the floor isn’t new to his skillset.
“I feel like I kind of just always had that in my game, just trying to be a calm and be a connector on the floor,” Jones said. “Coming to the NBA, you never know what’s going to happen, I’m just really trying to play my game and just play confident.”
Sacramento doesn’t have many two-way players on the roster who can provide a boost on both ends of the floor — most importantly, the defensive end — meaning that Jones could hear his number called if Brown needs someone who can disrupt an opponent’s offensive flow without being a negative on the Kings’ own offensive end of the floor.
Ellis, a second-year guard who signed a two-way contract with Sacramento during the offseason, has logged minutes at the third-string point guard position this preseason.
The 23-year-old has spent most of his minutes with the Stockton Kings, Sacramento’s G-League affiliate, at the shooting guard spot, but Ellis has been used at the point as a way to expand his game.
“We’ve been mixing in a little bit. Sometimes if I’m in a lineup with Colby [Jones], we’ll switch off on on who’s running the point,” Ellis said on Sunday when asked about his role during preseason. “Like, if he goes to get the ball and he’s denied, I’ll come up and get it. You know, kind of just trying to add another aspect to my game.”
Point guard depth isn’t an issue for the Kings when De’Aaron Fox and Davion Mitchell are healthy. Fox is an All-Star talent, while Mitchell is Sacramento’s best on-ball defender and a core member of Brown’s rotation.
However, the Kings benefited from incredible health in 2022-23, something that could be hard to replicate this season. If Fox or Mitchell miss time, options are slim when it comes to who can step in and log minutes in a third-string role.
Folsom native Jordan Ford is also on a two-way contract, but Ellis’ ability to defend at a high level could put him a step ahead of Ford in the pecking order–especially if Ellis can get comfortable running the point.
“You know [the Kings] talked about if I show I can run the point, that adds a lot of opportunity for me basketball wise,” Ellis said. “If I can come in and run the point, and also play off the ball if someone else has it, I think that gives me a chance to to play in multiple lineups as well.”
Sacramento and Golden State will meet again on Wednesday night at Chase Center as both teams inch closer to the conclusion of their preseason schedules.
After facing the Warriors on Wednesday, the Kings will return home on Thursday to play the final game of the preseason against the Utah Jazz.
Be sure to tune in right here on Sactown Sports 1140 for all of your Kings vs. Warriors coverage, beginning at 5:30 PM PST on Game Night before a 7:00 PM PST tip-off from downtown San Francisco.
Sacramento Kings 2023-24 Preseason Schedule
- Wednesday, October 18th – Sacramento Kings @ Golden State Warriors – 7 PM PST
- Thursday, October 19th – Sacramento Kings vs. Utah Jazz – 7 PM PST
Sacramento Kings 2023-24 Regular Season Schedule
- Tuesday, October 24th – NBA regular season begins
- Wednesday, October 25th – Sacramento Kings @ Utah Jazz – 6 PM PST (Season Opener)
- Friday, October 27th – Sacramento Kings vs. Golden State Warriors – 7 PM PST (Home Opener)
- Sunday, October 29th – Sacramento Kings vs. Los Angeles Lakers – 6 PM PST
- Wednesday, November 1st – Sacramento Kings @ Golden State Warriors – 7 PM PST