NBA Summer League

Boogie Ellis gives Kings game-changing, chip-on-shoulder energy in win

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SACRAMENTO – Boogie Ellis wasn’t mad when he saw Bronny James get picked in the 2024 NBA Draft, even though Ellis had better stats in college than his more infamous USC teammate did.

Ellis was happy for James, but definitely is using the slight of not getting drafted at all as motivation while trying to latch on with the Kings.

The 23-year-old guard took another step in that direction, pouring in a game-high 17 points in 22 minutes to pace the Kings to an 85-59 walkaway win over the San Antonio Spurs in the California Classic at Golden 1 Center on Sunday.

“Coach [Doug Christie] said he wanted dogs, and I believe I’m a dog,” Ellis said after anchoring a defense that held the Spurs to a chilly 22.5-percent shooting. “Just showing that, picking up people, being physical, talking, communicating. Just doing everything other people are not willing to do.”

In many ways, Ellis is a Swiss Army Knife-type of player. He can score from anywhere on the floor, does a good job creating shots both for himself and others, and has no problem selling out on the defensive end while trying to create as much havoc as possible.

That was the same M.O. that Ellis had at USC. During the 2022-23 season, he played in 29 games and averaged 16.5 points, 3.5 rebounds and three assists while shooting nearly 42 percent behind the arc.

In comparison, James averaged just 4.8 points, 2.8 rebounds and 2.1 assists in 25 games, yet got selected 55th overall by the Los Angeles Lakers with the hopes of joining his iconic father to form the first father-son duo to play together in the NBA.

Ellis, meanwhile, didn’t get drafted and wound up signing a free-agent deal with the Kings, with nothing really concrete other than an invitation to the summer league.

“I’m happy for [James] because that’s one of my brothers. I’m glad he got the opportunity,” Ellis said. “But this is a business. Everybody’s trying to feed their family. Definitely have a chip on my shoulder. I believe I’m a great basketball player and I’m better than a lot of guys that were picked.

“At the end of the day I have to go show my hard work and show what I do. I just continue to work, keep my head down and keep working. It’s going to pay off.”

In his short time with the Kings, Ellis already has made a positive impression on his teammates and the coaching staff.

Colby Jones, who is trying to carve out a bigger role for himself, said Ellis has been impactful ever since he signed with Sacramento.

“The way he’s playing, I’m not surprised,” Jones said. “Really happy to see him out there being confident, hitting his stride for sure. He’s helped us out a lot.”

Christie, who has been coaching one of the Kings’ two teams in the California Classic, noted that Ellis brings a different level of passion when he’s on the court.

“I thought that the energy changed when he came in the game [Sunday],” Christie said. “It wasn’t like the energy was bad, it just wasn’t Boogie energy. When he comes in the game, everything changes. His ability to pick up and keep his guy in front of him, he’s fearless crashing the boards. I love the fact that he’s not afraid to shoot the basketball. It’s not pump-fake, he’s already thinking shot.

“Just a good teammate. He brought the energy tonight and we really needed it.”

Ellis loves doing the dirty work on either end of the court and gave himself a pretty solid scouting report after Sunday’s game.

“Somebody that comes in the game with high energy, a defensive player that can play-make, make open shots,” Ellis said. “Everybody knows I can score the basketball so right now I’m just focusing on the defensive end and letting everything else take care of itself.”

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