3 players who failed to take a step forward with the Kings season on the line

We all knew it would be tough to play their way through two Play-In Tournament games for the Kings, but after the stellar performance they put on against the Warriors, it’s still disappointing that their season is now over .

It was meant to be The Kings would take a step forward after last season’s success. Missing the playoffs is not, especially when looking at the implications it will have for the team’s future. This season has made it clear that the Kings need to upgrade their starting lineup. Moreover, Malik Monk may play for another team next season.

Having to replace him while the starting lineup is still being upgraded would be difficult if the Kings had enough picks to trade. Because they don’t make the playoffs, the top-14 protected first-round pick they still owe to the Atlanta Hawks will not be passed on, and they will not have any of their 2025-2027 first-round picks can trade.

This summer will be tough for the Kings, especially with the bad taste of yet another brutal loss to the Pelicans still in their mouths. New Orleans is a bad matchup and the Kings were missing Monk and Kevin Huerter. While these are both valid points, this loss is still a huge disappointment. We’ve seen other players emerge before, but not last night.

So let’s take a look at three players who failed to step up with the Kings season on the line.

Keon Ellis’ primary responsibility for the Kings is defense, but he has also shown he can be an offensive threat. He was great on both ends of the court against the Warriors and a big part of the Kings’ win. It may not be fair to expect a former two-way player in his first full NBA season to play lock-down defense while scoring about 15 points when the team is on the brink of elimination, but the Kings needed Ellis last night to do that.

Without Kevin Huerter and Malik Monk, Ellis was one of the players who needed to step up the most. He had to make open shots, get steals and deflections and fight every second of the game.

Instead, Ellis finished the game with just 1 assist, 2 blocks, 1 turnover and 4 fouls, missing all five of his shot attempts. This season was a huge success for Ellis, as he landed a standard NBA contract and took the first steps toward building a reputation as a 3-and-D talent.

However, yesterday he failed to take a step further, ending his magical rise through the NBA ranks on a sour note. Now it’s the offseason for Ellis and he has plenty of work to do. The Kings will need him next season, especially if Monk leaves, so it would be great if he could return with a more secure offensive arsenal.