Morale is high around the fan favorites for bouncing back after seeing several DNPs with the Kings.
At the end of last season and in the summer, fan favorite Chimezie Metu began his ascension, first with #SummerKings in Las Vegas and then with Team Nigeria at the Olympics in Japan. Meanwhile, Damian Jones re-joined the Kings in the late summer.
Although Jones didn’t participate in the team’s offseason workouts, he was seen putting in work prior to training camp with Davion Mitchell and Tyrese Haliburton at the helm of player development coach Rico Hines. It’s apparent that particular squad are still incredibly well-fitted, as Davion Mitchell praised Jones and Metu for rising to the occasion when their numbers were finally called.
“D. Jones and Chimezie are always the first people in the gym,” Mitchell said. “They’re always ready, they’re always working on their game even if they’re not playing.”
The duo have both received nine DNP-CDs this season, entering the blowout victory over Charlotte on Nov. 5 and in the absence of Haliburton in Monday night’s contest. Metu made the most of his 19 minutes, contributing 2 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals while Jones also had a handful in every category giving Sacramento 4 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist and 1 block. The two were a +15 and +17 on the night, respectively.
“Even before they play three-on-three, they get a lot work in playing one-on-one, you see them play one-on-one every day. It’s just being ready and staying ready like they did and tonight they did a really good job.” Mitchell told reporters following the contest.
Does being efficient in a blowout really matter? Subjective. It seems the entire squad has taken to Hines’ stacking days mantra. When things weren’t going Sacramento’s way, the effort they provided was undoubtedly a catapult in Sacramento’s late-game comeback.
“We went to guys early — D. Jones, Mezie, Davion — and they started playing with that fire that we’ve been playing with most of the season and it was fun,” Walton said.
Staying ready is exactly what Metu and Jones will need to do as the season progresses, likely to see more DNPs and earning their minutes when the opportunities arise. Earning more than garbage time and becoming a reliable means to a victory in their high-energy opportunities will come over time and as they continue to build on Mitchell’s “it’s just work” mentality.