Keon Ellis makes his case to move into Kings' starting lineup

Q&A with Kings guard Keon Ellis

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The job of every NBA general manager is to turn over every stone looking for hidden gems. Assessing prospects and making judgements on who they might become at the next level is extremely difficult, but every once in a while, you can strike gold, be it in the lottery, in the second round or even in the undrafted free agent market.

It appears that Kings GM Monte McNair may have done just that when he signed Keon Ellis as an undrafted player on draft night, 2022. 

Measuring in at 6-foot-3.5 and 167 pounds at the combine, Ellis tumbled on draft night. Scheduled to go in the mid-second round, he was available on the open market and the Kings pounced, investing one of their two-way contracts on the wing out of Alabama. 

A year and a half later, Ellis has not only had his contract converted to a standard NBA deal, but he is in Mike Brown’s rotation and thriving as a defensive catalyst. Ellis took some lumps Saturday against the Knicks, but his performances earlier in the week against Damian Lillard of the Bucks and D’Angelo Russell of the Lakers turned heads. 

Ellis’ offensive stats don’t jump off the page, but his defensive metrics are stellar and his energy is contagious. The Kings are 6-0 when the 24-year-old starts this season and there are plenty of fans clamoring for him to move into the starting lineup on a permanent basis. 

Before the Kings hosted New York on Saturday, we had time to catch up with Ellis from the Kings locker room. Here is the transcript from that conversation:

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