Seldom do you see an NBA team reach the 25 game point of the season with 15 healthy players. But that is exactly where the Kings are.
After missing most of training camp with a back injury and then suffering a Grade 3 sprained left ankle when he came down on a teammate's foot during a game of 3-on-3 on Dec. 30, DaQuan Jeffries is officially back in practice and ready for his return.
“It’s been very frustrating, just going through injury and feeling like you can get out there, but you can’t go until you’re 100 percent cleared,” Jeffries said following his first practice in nearly six weeks. “Overall, it’s been pretty productive for me. I feel like I’m stronger, faster than I was before.”
Jeffries spent last season bouncing back and forth between Sacramento and Stockton as a two-way player for the Kings. He impressed with his play in the Orlando bubble and earned a two-year contract with the team during the offseason.
“It’s great to have him back,” coach Luke Walton said. “He plays physical, he hits people, he plays above the rim. We really liked what he did for us in limited opportunities last season.”
While Jeffries is finally healthy, it may be a while before he sees meaningful game action. Walton has focused on a tight eight-man rotation and Jeffries has missed major development time this season.
“So we’re excited to have him back, but with that being said, he hasn’t played basketball all season long between the injuries,” Walton added. “We’ll look to get him some opportunities where we can, but there’s not an amount of minutes I can just throw at him now.”
Jeffries was one of the first players off the bench during the first preseason game and appeared to be part of Walton’s rotation before the injury bug hit. He is extremely versatile on the defensive end and he can switch one through four.
Unfortunately, he’ll need to find a way to get back in the mix by putting extra work in during the team’s limited practices and by spending plenty of time in film study with the team.
During his time away, Jeffries has been working primarily with player development coach Akachi Okugo at the team’s practice facility. There could come a time when the Kings need him to step in and play a major role off the bench, but for now, he’ll have to bide his time and wait for another opportunity to arise.