Keon Ellis reflects on his breakthrough 2023-24 season

Apr 23, 2024, 5:13 PM | Updated: 5:14 pm

Keon Ellis #23 of the Sacramento Kings reacts after a call during the second half against the New Y...

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 04: Keon Ellis #23 of the Sacramento Kings reacts after a call during the second half against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden on April 04, 2024 in New York City. The Knicks won 120-109. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

(Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

Keon Ellis had a storybook season with the Sacramento Kings. Undrafted out of Alabama in 2023, Ellis was on a two-way deal, earning a standard deal with Sacramento in February after proving his on-court value.

Spending most of last season with their G-League affiliate in Stockton, the 6’4 guard refined his offensive game to prove he could be a point guard if asked. Ellis played just 71 minutes with Sacramento last season, but an opportunity presented itself in the sixth regular season game of 2023-24.

With De’Aaron Fox sidelined with an ankle injury, Davion Mitchell was inserted into the starting lineup while the back spot was a question. Head coach Mike Brown admitted recently that, coming into the season, he thought both Davion Mitchell and Colby Jones were ahead of Ellis for that role.

Well, in that sixth game of the season, the Houston Rockets blew out the Kings, and both teams emptied the bench. Brown has made the value he places on those minutes clear. If someone performs, they deserve an extended look moving forward. Keon Ellis did just that. He brought the defensive intensity the coaching staff had been searching for that night and executed their offense.

From there, Keon Ellis was sporadically seen on the floor until the final 20 games or so. With unfortunate injuries to Kevin Huerter and Malik Monk, Ellis was thrust into the starting lineup and performed as if he belonged there all along.

The Alabama alum reflected on his storybook-esque season in Monday’s exit interviews. “It’s been crazy. I don’t think it’s still hit me just yet,” he said. “It’s definitely a crazy experience. [I’m] just blessed to have had all that happen, but definitely a great year.”

YouTube video

That sort of jump into the NBA comes with on-court adjustments and lifestyle changes. Ellis joked earlier in the year about how enjoyable the travel was with Sacramento compared to the G-League accommodations. Also, he became more subject to public scrutiny with sudden, increased expectations.

“You have a bad game, and you’re probably doubting yourself of whatever, and then off the court, people are trying to call you every other day to tell you how you should be playing and whatnot,” Keon Ellis said.

“I’ve just stopped answering the phone. I don’t even answer calls like that anymore. As far as on the court, guys like Malik (Monk) and Davion (Mitchell), they’ve been really helpful. Especially when I was playing over Davion, Davion was still in my ear… those two guys were definitely huge in that.”

Now, heading into next season with a standard roster spot locked in and expectations that Ellis will be part of the rotation moving forward, it’s all about continuing to improve. While reflecting on his season (mainly because he kept being asked to), the guard clarified that he was unsatisfied with the team’s finale in New Orleans.

Aware that this feel-good season is now completed, next year brings new challenges for Ellis with an expected rotational spot and standard deal inked. With a better idea of where he currently fits into the NBA, Ellis has an offseason to build upon his encouraging start.

NBA Offseason Schedule

  • Sunday, May 12 – NBA Draft Lottery
  • Wednesday, June 26-Thursday, June 27th – 2024 NBA Draft
  • Sunday, June 30th – Free Agent negotiating window opens (3 PM PST)
  • Saturday, July 6th – Free Agents can officially sign contracts
  • July 12-22nd – Las Vegas Summer League
  • July 27-August 11th – 2024 Olympic Games
  • Friday, September 27th – NBA training camps begin

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