Yogi Ferrell was a wonderful surprise in Wednesday’s win over the Minnesota Timberwolves, finishing with 17 points and 6 assists in just 16 minutes of action off the bench. Both totals are season highs for Ferrell, who had played sporadic minutes lately and mostly in garbage time. But when given a bigger opportunity, Yogi stepped up and turned heads. After the game, Kings coach Dave Joerger praised Ferrell for staying professional and staying ready (via James Ham):
“Hats off to Yogi Ferrell about being a professional and being ready for an opportunity,”
“ We preach that with our young guys - staying ready, staying ready, staying ready.”
Joerger also said that Ferrell will get an extended opportunity to play in the Kings upcoming stretch of games.
“I want to see him, and for him to know that he’s going to play for 10 games straight - not have to worry about, ‘if I didn’t play well tonight,’ - no,” Joerger said. “We’re going to go in this direction for about 10 games and evaluate is from there.”
This comes as welcome news to many Kings fans. During the Wolves game Twitter was a flurry of tweets asking where had Ferrell been, why hadn’t he played more, and begging for him to be the backup point guard going forward. The difference in the second unit’s performance was noticeable, especially following the Kings game against the Chicago Bulls in which Frank Mason struggled.
The move highlights what could be considered either a strength or a weakness for Joerger. He’s often slow to change his lineups, often in ways that feel like a struggling player has received too long a leash. But as Joerger mentioned in his quote, he gives players an extended run so they know they can play without fear of immediately being benched again. As impatient as we often are as fans, we know from our years as Kings fans that players want to have clear expectations of their roles on a team. To Joerger’s credit, he provides that. He doesn’t make quick reactions and change lineups very often. Even when he may tinker with minutes distributions to play specific matchups, the lineup of which players see the floor is usually consistent.
Hopefully this change helps the Kings as they work through a difficult December schedule, and hopefully Ferrell can continue to play like the point guard Kings fans expected when he was signed this summer.