Mike Brown emphasizes the importance of embracing your role

Oct 23, 2023, 3:44 PM

Sacramento Kings head coach Mike Brown shouts to his team during their game against the Portland Tr...

SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 19: Sacramento Kings head coach Mike Brown shouts to his team during their game against the Portland Trail Blazers at Golden 1 Center on October 19, 2022 in Sacramento, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

For his second consecutive season as head coach of the Sacramento Kings, Mike Brown created an ‘All-In’ contract for members of the organization. Everyone from players to coaches and front office members sign the agreement to acknowledge their willingness not just to accept but embrace their role for the team’s betterment.

“I’m selflessly connected to the team because we are stronger together,” it reads. “I’m fully committed to being present, while accountable, to doing what’s best for the team. I embrace adversity in a positive way to earn the trust of the team, every play and every day.”

Last year, it stopped there. For the 2023-24 season, one final line was added in large, bold letters. “I believe in us.”

Maintaining organizational selflessness and a willingness to sacrifice is increasingly vital for teams that have quality depth, as Sacramento projects. The additions of Chris Duarte, who has impressed early, veteran big JaVale McGee, and reigning EuroLeague MVP Sasha Vezenkov are promising but add complications when formulating an ideal rotation.

Mike Brown has even mentioned rookie Colby Jones making his job harder, but it’s a welcome challenge. With the regular season opener days away, he’s putting plenty of time into defining initial roles for the Kings to continue building off last season’s success.

“The biggest thing for us is who can bring the physicality that we need to bring to the table defensively while not necessarily hurting us offensively,” he said. “We were the best in the history last year offensively. It’s going to be hard to duplicate that. We’re going to try like heck to do it, but we have a lot of room to grow defensively. So, we want to make a huge jump on that end of the floor, even if we take a slight step or two backward, offensively.”

“That’s what we’re looking for from all of our guys,” Brown continued. “And, it’s my decision at the end of the day, to utilize everything that we’re able to from practices, to the games, to shootaround, to shooting drills, to watching everything back on film, to make that decision on what’s best.”

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Duarte, who started in place of Kevin Huerter for one preseason game, is an intriguing factor in this conversation. In his infancy with the Kings, Duarte seems to fit the description Brown mentioned. Defensively, his on-ball pressure and physicality have been everything they’ve asked for, and he’s remained impactful by maintaining their offensive flow.

If he continues this trajectory, he could warrant significant minutes in the rotation. Of course, that would have to come at the cost of another player. Properly communicating that role is an essential first step towards getting buy-in from the roster.

Each player periodically meets with Brown, their assigned player development coach, someone from the front office, the medical team, and the strength team, along with others, to “work together on formulating and describing the individual’s role,” according to Mike Brown. They’re not simply being told. It’s a discussion that ideally leads to a mutual agreement and understanding of what’s best at that current moment.

From there, it’s about how the player approaches their defined role. And from Brown’s perspective, they have three different options. “You can reject it, which you don’t want because if people reject their roles, you do not have a team at all. I don’t care what business you’re in,” he said.

“You can accept it. The thing about accepting your role is that person told me this is my role, so I’m going to accept it now. And I always feel that if you accept something, usually you have one foot in and one foot out. When things are going good, okay, you’re in, but when things are going bad, just because that person told me to do it, they don’t really feel it.”

They’re hoping option C, embracing it, is the most traveled route. That’s the commitment everyone agreed upon when signing the ‘All-In’ contract, and Brown won’t hesitate to offer a reminder when needed.

“If somebody goes a little sideways, just pull them over and tell them, ‘Look, you’re signature is on that contract.,'” he said. “You didn’t have to sign that if you weren’t going to be in, and a lot of times if a guy is going a little left, a little right, that will pull him back in.”

In his first year as Sacramento’s head coach, the team’s buy-in and cohesiveness was apparent. Now, with added quality depth, continuous communication and embracement of roles will be crucial to the Kings’ success moving forward. If everyone is unconditionally ‘All-In,’ their external and internal improvements could help them improve defensively.

Sacramento Kings 2023-24 Regular Season Schedule

  • Wednesday, October 25th – Sacramento Kings @ Utah Jazz – 6 PM PST (Season Opener)
  • Friday, October 27th – Sacramento Kings vs. Golden State Warriors – 7 PM PST (Home Opener)
  • Sunday, October 29th – Sacramento Kings vs. Los Angeles Lakers – 6 PM PST
  • Wednesday, November 1st – Sacramento Kings @ Golden State Warriors – 7 PM PST
  • Saturday, November 4th – Sacramento Kings @ Houston Rockets – 5 PM PST
  • Monday, November 6th – Sacramento Kings @ Houston Rockets – 5 PM PST

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Mike Brown emphasizes the importance of embracing your role