It is optimism season around the NBA as Media Days took place across the league Monday. And this season in Sacramento there is no reason not to jump on the optimism train after the team finally broke the playoff drought in the 2022-23 campaign. Based on what the Kings general manager, head coach and star player are saying to the media, the team is ready to take that first round game 7 loss to the Golden State Warriors and use it as motivation. So much so that the word “championship” was being thrown around as a goal.
Now, there isn’t a team in the association that doesn’t have a championship as their goal, of course. But with the painstakingly long goal of making the playoffs in the rear view in Sacramento, it’s time for new goals, which based on the talking points today (collected below in excerpts from various media coverage) is sustained playoff success and a championship.
“We expect to compete for a championship,” Mike Brown declared.
Brown continually stressed the difference between being a good team and a great team. “First and foremost, we have to understand that the enemy of the great is the good,” he said.
The coach emphasized that complacency is the enemy. “To go from good to great is hard,” he said, urging the importance of open communication and constructive criticism. “This applies to anybody. They don’t want to deal with being open and honest with each other. It’s hard to hear constructive criticism, but you need to be open and honest with each other so we can all hold each other accountable.”
De’Aaron Fox continued this line of thought in terms of the importance of accountability among players. “Every time we come here we know that we’re going to get after each other. We know that coaches are going to yell at us and cuss us out. You know that it’s what’s best for us. It’s never getting taken personal. As a team, you need that. You need that type of, I don’t want to call it adversity, but we need people to get on each other,” Fox said.
And with this mindset, the Kings set their sights on the task at hand.
“We have high expectations for ourselves. We all want to win a championship. That’s our next goal,” Fox said.
General manager Monte McNair had a clear message: the Kings are no longer content with just making it to the playoffs. “I think for us, we talked about step one, we have to break that playoff drought. I’m glad to have that monkey off the back. Now it’s a different challenge, a harder challenge in a lot of ways to make this step two of sustained success in the playoffs,” McNair said.
McNair emphasized the importance of winning in the playoffs and pointed out the team’s defensive lapses.
“We want this to be a multi-year playoff run. Certainty, we need to figure out a way that we can continue to have our fantastic offense, but get better defensively,” McNair said, noting that despite some positive signs in defense down the stretch last season, there’s a lot more work to be done.
Moreover, McNair highlighted the significance of internal improvement and being able to build on year 2 of the Mike Brown era.
“We had a new coach last year, completely new defensive system. In a lot of ways, I think that’s the thing that takes longer in the NBA,” he said. “There’s just so many complex rotations and reads. I think our guys got better as it went along. Then we’re going to have to figure out a way to bring more guys in that can be two-way players, can defend, can hit shots, can make smart plays on the offensive end. We’re going to continue to do all those things to shore that side up.”
In line with McNair’s sentiments, Fox emphasized the need for the team to be consistent in their defensive efforts throughout the season. “Like Mike [Brown] has said before, we have to be playing defense and be physical from game one to game 82 and then however many games we play after that, rather than going into the playoffs trying to amp that up because now guys might not have been playing that hard. Now you’re tired, now your shots are different. So, we have to try to do that as much as possible before getting into the postseason where you’re just trying to flip a switch. We know we can’t do that.”
On the offensive side, Brown detailed some strategic adjustments, particularly after facing the Golden State Warriors in the playoffs. “We need to change this, adjust that, and see if we can come up with something that still fits our style of play,” Brown shared, hinting at potential alterations in the team’s DHO game, which the Warriors effectively shut down in the first-round series last season.
The Kings begin the 2023-24 training camp on Tuesday and the first preseason game is an away game against the Toronto Raptors on Sunday, Oct. 8.
Light the beam.