Keon Ellis establishes new franchise mark for Kings guards

Mar 19, 2024, 9:38 AM | Updated: 9:57 am

SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA - NOVEMBER 10: Keon Ellis #23 of the Sacramento Kings dribbles the ball up c...

(Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)

(Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)

Since making his NBA debut last season, it’s been no secret that Keon Ellis can be a difference-maker on the defensive end.

The Sacramento Kings’ guard has been one of the best stories of the 2023-24 season, going from an undrafted free agent to a two-way contract player before signing his first fully guaranteed NBA contract in February.

Over the past few weeks, Ellis has emerged as an integral piece of Sacramento’s rotation due to his defensive prowess–both as an on-ball and off-ball defender for a Kings team that has sorely lacked both types of defenders over the past season-plus.

Ellis, a 6’6 guard with impressive athleticism, strengthened his case at an expanded role during Sacramento’s overtime win over the Memphis Grizzlies on Monday night, a game that saw the 24-year-old establish a new franchise record.

According to Basketball Reference’s Stathead tool, Ellis became the first Kings guard in the Sacramento era (1985-present) to block five shots in a single game.

Ellis swatted five shots while playing a career-high 33 minutes–including 11 minutes in the fourth quarter and all five overtime minutes–to go along with five points, seven rebounds, three assists, and one steal.

Collecting five blocks in a single game is no easy feat, even for some of the NBA’s top shot-blockers, but Ellis put on a show against Memphis while spending a large portion of the night matched up against high-scoring guard Desmond Bane.

Four of Ellis’ five blocks came against Bane, as the Alabama product held the Grizzlies guard to four points on one-of-six (16% FG) shooting over 7:34 of game time.

Defensive guards in the Kings’ franchise history books like Doug Christie (three blocks), Cuttino Mobley (four blocks), and De’Aaron Fox (four blocks) previously graced the top of the “most blocks in a single game” leaderboard, but now there is a new record for Sacramento guards:

Keon Ellis.

More on Kings guard Keon Ellis

Sacramento has sorely lacked defensive impact this season, but Ellis’s emergence has come at an ideal time as the Western Conference playoff race heats up.

Ellis could find himself in a starting role going forward as the Kings await word on the severity of Kevin Huerter’s left arm injury that was suffered during the opening minutes of Monday’s action.

With Huerter ruled out for the remainder of the game just two minutes in, Ellis was called on to play extended minutes and did not disappoint. While Domantas Sabonis got the Defensive Player of the Game crown after grabbing 18 rebounds and holding Jaren Jackson Jr. to five-of-21 (24% FG) shooting, Ellis got some postgame love from his head coach and teammates.

“Domas ended up taking a charge tonight. He was our Defensive Player of the Game, and it could have easily gone to Keon,” Kings head coach Mike Browns said postgame.

“Keon was really good, too. I think he had five deflections, maybe six deflections, and Desmond (Bane), you’re talking about a tough cover with his ability to get to the rim and finish, and his ability to shoot the three from range. Keon was really good.”

While Ellis had a historic night on the defensive end, Sixth Man of the Year favorite Malik Monk took over in overtime to seal the victory, scoring 12 of his 28 points in the extra period. Following the win, Monk praised his fellow guard’s impact on the other end of the floor.

“Like I said before, every time I talk, I don’t be surprised with Keon because I know that’s what he does,” Monk said of Ellis. “I was watching him for a little bit when he was at Alabama. It’s crazy because he used to steal the ball from all the Kentucky players when I used to watch. I knew he was good at defense. I just didn’t know it was going to translate like this. But yeah, man, Keon, he’s great. A great professional, too.”

With Monk and De’Aaron Fox leading the way on offense, the Kings now have two defensive-minded guards in their rotation: Ellis and Davion Mitchell, who play alongside the Kentucky duo.

Sacramento will have no shortage of challenging defensive assignments in the coming weeks as the playoff race comes to a head, but Ellis’ growth and development are taking shape at a great time for this Kings team.

When is the next Sacramento Kings game?

Sacramento will hit the road for a three-game trip that will begin on Wednesday night against the Toronto Raptors.

Back on January 5th, the Kings secured a 135-130 win over Toronto at Golden 1 Center behind a triple-double performance from Domantas Sabonis (24 points, 15 rebounds, and 11 assists) and a double-double outing by Keegan Murray (18 points and 12 rebounds).

Since the start of the 2013-14 season, Sacramento holds a 4-6 record at Scotiabank Arena, including 2-4 over the past six seasons.

Be sure to tune in right here on Sactown Sports 1140 for all of your Kings vs. Raptors coverage, beginning at 3:00 PM PST on Game Night before a 4:30 PM PST tip-off from Toronto.

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Upcoming Schedule

  • Wednesday, March 20th – Sacramento Kings @ Toronto Raptors – 4:30 PM PST
  • Thursday, March 21st – Sacramento Kings @ Washington Wizards – 4:00 PM PST
  • Saturday, March 23rd – Sacramento Kings @ Orlando Magic – 4:00 PM PST
  • Monday, March 25th – Sacramento Kings vs. Philadelphia 76ers – 7:00 PM PST
  • Tuesday, March 26th – Sacramento Kings vs. Dallas Mavericks – 7:00 PM PST
  • Friday, March 29th – Sacramento Kings vs. Dallas Mavericks – 7:00 PM PST

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