Coach Mike Brown seems to have regained hope for the Sacramento Kings franchise in his first year leading the Kings, going undefeated in the four games of the preseason.
The talent may not be elite on the roster, but that’s what makes Lakers Coach Darvin Ham even more impressed with Brown’s start.
“Mike [Brown] is a great ambassador for the game and a great coach in his own right,” Ham told the Sacramento Bee after the Lakers lost to the Kings to end the preseason. “making sure they’re detail-oriented, making sure they’re consistent. He’s a guy that’s passionate but not emotional — At the end of the day, he’s going to make sure he has all of his resources in order — to reemphasize why they should be doing exactly what he’s asking of them to do.”
Brown is at the helm of a team in a 16-season playoff drought, the longest of any franchise in the history of the NBA. It may be a mountain to climb in this new tenure, but Brown has been through the highest and the lowest of being an NBA head coach.
Notable moments of Brown’s career were when he led the Cleveland Cavaliers to a trip to the 2007 NBA Finals, surrounding the team’s former superstar, LeBron James, with various shooters and stout defenders. Later in his tenure with the Cavs, Brown orchestrated back-to-back 60+ win seasons, earning Coach of the Year honors in 2009.
Although his coaching career took a slight bump with the Cavs and Lakers in the early 2010s, Brown picked his name right back up as an assistant coach on Steve Kerr’s coaching staff, winning three championships in five years (2017-2022) with the Golden State Warriors.
One of the philosophies Brown has seemed to incorporate into the Kings from the Warriors is the expectation of relentless defense from the young assets. Kings star De’Aaron Fox believes Sacramento has benefitted from Brown’s heavy ‘attention to detail’ defensively. James noticed that playing defense is also a tenet of Brown’s coaching philosophy.
“He’s someone that, if you don’t defend, you won’t get on the floor,” James said. “When he came to Cleveland, we became one of the best defensive teams in the League every single year. That gave us a chance to win every single night. Offensively, some nights we weren’t that good, but we were always in games because we defended.”
— Sacramento Kings (@SacramentoKings) October 19, 2022
Sacramento fans could be heavily intrigued by that, considering Fox hasn’t returned to that pesky defender he once was in the 2018-19 season, where he attributed 133 total steals (sixth best). Of course, Brown first wants to see stout defensive teamwork before jumping into individual accolades.
“Although we want everybody to bring it defensively as an individual, it’s not one guy guarding the ball,” said Brown, per Jason Anderson of the Sacramento Bee. “It’s five guys guarding the ball, so we want to see five guys on a string. We want to communicate — Those are some of the things which are staples that we want to see on the defensive side of the ball, but the biggest thing is competing.”
The Kings aren’t expected to become the NBA’s best defensive team or break the 16-year curse of missing the playoffs, but wilder things have happened from first-year coaches, and Brown looks to fill the hearts of the many Sacramento fans that have been desperate for a team built towards long-term success.