Kings coach Mike Brown is emphasizing the next-man-up mentality as his team prepares to face the Golden State Warriors without the services of All-NBA point guard De’Aaron Fox.
Fox has been ruled out for Wednesday’s game against the Warriors at Chase Center in San Francisco after suffering an ankle injury in Sunday’s overtime win over the Los Angeles Lakers. Imaging exams showed Fox sustained a moderate right ankle sprain, avoiding a more serious injury like the grade-3 left ankle sprain that caused him to miss 17 games in 2019-20.
The timeline for Fox’s return is unclear, but it will depend on how his body responds to treatment, a league source told The Sacramento Bee. At this point, all the Kings know is that Fox is out as they begin a three-game road trip that will take them from Golden State to Texas for two games against the Houston Rockets on Saturday and Monday.
Brown said Davion Mitchell, a third-year guard from Baylor, will start at point guard when the Kings (2-1) visit the Warriors (3-1). Mitchell started 19 games as a rookie in 2021-22 and nine games last season. He is averaging just 1.7 points on 22.2% shooting over the first three games this season — a sharp decline from his average of 11.5 points per game as a rookie — but he is still regarded as one of the fiercest on-ball defenders in the league.
“We’ve been in this position before,” Mitchell said. “Just keep being aggressive, run the team, run the offense, make sure everyone’s in their right spots and just keep doing the things I’m really good at defensively.”
Veteran guard Malik Monk will also take on more ballhandling and playmaking responsibilities, something he is already accustomed to as a catalyst off Sacramento’s bench. Monk, who was a Sixth Man of the Year candidate last season, has gotten off to a strong start this season, averaging 13.7 points and 5.3 assists.
Monk played point guard down the stretch after Fox went down in a 122-114 victory over the Lakers, but Brown said he will start Mitchell beause the spark Monk brings off the bench is so important to the team.
“The versatility and the punch that he gives us off the bench is something that, right now, it’s hard for us to try to figure out how to replace that, more so than trying to replace somebody else in the starting lineup,” Brown said.
The absence of Fox could also create an opportunity for rookie second-round draft pick Colby Jones and rookie two-way player Jordan Ford. The Kings selected Jones out of Xavier with the 34th overall pick in the 2023 NBA draft. Jones made a big impression in five preseason games, averaging 9.0 points, 1.8 assists and 1.2 steals while shooting 47.4% from the field and 40.9% from 3-point range.
Ford, an undrafted player out of Saint Mary’s, signed a two-way contract with Sacramento this season following a strong summer league showing and a year with the G League Stockton Kings.
Brown said he expects Jones to get some playing time after logging a total of two minutes in the first three games.
“We’re going to try to give Colby an opportunity, too,” Brown said. “Obviously, we’ll start Davion, but we’ll try to get Colby out on the floor, too, at some point.”