Sacramento need Mitchell, Jones to step up in absence on De’Aaron Fox
Oct 31, 2023, 6:37 PM
(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
With De’Aaron Fox expected to miss a few games due to a moderate right ankle sprain, the Sacramento Kings will rely on their improved depth to fill some minutes. After Tuesday’s practice, head coach Mike Brown shared that Davion Mitchell will slide into the starting lineup, and rookie Colby Jones will get an opportunity to play significant minutes for the first time in the regular season.
It’s worth noting that Jones, who had an impressive preseason, was spotted wearing a gray, second-unit penny at practice. Yet, while those two players may see the most significant jump in minutes, it will be a group effort to replace Fox’s All-NBA caliber production.
“You don’t replace (All-Stars),” Brown said. “It’s the next man up, and you become even more connected to go out there and find a way to get it done. Those guys obviously mean a lot to our team and our franchise and our city. But, at the end of the day, that’s why we have 17 guys on our team because it has to be the next man up, and we have to do it collectively.”
Mitchell has started 28 games throughout his career, with nine coming last season. In those nine showings, he averaged 9.2 points, 4.0 assists, and 1.7 rebounds on 44.2/29.3/75.0 shooting in 28.8 minutes. The Baylor alum plans to increase his offensive aggression and maintain their high-paced identity while playing within himself.
He’s nowhere near the scorer that De’Aaron Fox is, and he shouldn’t be expected to fill that void independently. Mitchell is anticipating that the Golden State Warriors, who will face the Kings at Chase Center Wednesday night, will go under screens while defending him in the pick-and-roll, and he plans to take those looks. “Knocking those shots down, make sure they respect me,” he said. “After that, just put my team in positions to score easy points.”
When De’Aaron Fox was unavailable for most of the overtime against the Los Angeles Lakers, Malik Monk closed at point guard and thrived. He had 11 points and one crucial assist to Kevin Huerter to ice the game. His ability to penetrate defenses and spray to shooters is second to Fox on Sacarmento’s roster and necessary in his absence.
So, if he’s a prime candidate to close games, why not start him? Coach Brown explained the complications of replacing his bench production on Tuesday.
“When you have a guy like that to come off the bench, it gives you so much versatility, offensively especially,” he said. “Also, it gives you an opportunity to bring him off for a long stretch, sit him for a couple of minutes, and then play him at the end if you need to.”
“We don’t necessarily need him with that starting group. So, the versatility and the punch that he gives us off that bench is something that right now is hard to figure out how to replace that, more so than trying to replace somebody else in the starting lineup.”
Brown seemed to have a similar philosophy last season. When De’Aaron Fox was unavailable, he started Mitchell. If Harrison Barnes or Keegan Murray were sidelined, he started Kessler Edwards or Terence Davis to maintain rotational continuity off their bench.
That bench seemed to be strengthened throughout the offseason with the additions of Jones, reigning EuroLeague MVP Sasha Vezenkov, and veteran big JaVale McGee. While those players can aid the full-strength Kings any given night, depth ultimately shows when injuries arise. The absence of De’Aaron Fox and Trey Lyles is Sacramento’s first ample opportunity to showcase their options.
“That’s a strength of our team,” Mithcell said Tuesday. “We’ve got a lot of people that can play both sides of the ball who can step in positions like this when people go out, so we’ll be ready for it.”
No one player on Sacramento’s roster is going to fill Fox’s typical role, but they are prepared to collectively embrace more prominent roles as needed.
When is the next Sacramento Kings Game?
Did somebody ask for more Kings vs. Warriors?
For what seems like the 100th time over the past 101 games, Sacramento and Golden State will meet once again on Wednesday night–the second time over the first four games of the regular season.
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.
Upcoming Sacramento Kings Schedule
- Wednesday, November 1st – Sacramento Kings @ Golden State Warriors – 7 PM PST
- Saturday, November 4th – Sacramento Kings @ Houston Rockets – 5 PM PST
- Monday, November 6th – Sacramento Kings @ Houston Rockets – 5 PM PST
- Wednesday, November 8th – Sacramento Kings vs. Portland Trail Blazers – 7 PM PST
- Friday, November 10th – Sacramento Kings vs. Oklahoma City Thunder** – 7 PM PST
** NBA In-Season Tournament Group Play