Mike Brown claims the Sacramento Kings ‘will not finish 25th or 26th defensively’

Oct 24, 2023, 7:20 PM | Updated: 8:31 pm

Sacramento Kings head coach Mike Brown reacts to a call during their game against the Golden State ...

SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 17: Sacramento Kings head coach Mike Brown reacts to a call during their game against the Golden State Warriors during Game Two of the Western Conference First Round Playoffs at Golden 1 Center on April 17, 2023 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)

On Tuesday afternoon, Sacramento Kings head coach Mike Brown made his commitment to defensive improvement apparent. With the regular season opener one day away, the Kings ended their practice with the first and second units playing two minutes of five-on-five to simulate clutch scenarios.

Both teams scored every time down the floor, except for one turnover from Chris Duarte and a missed free-throw from De’Aaron Fox. The whistle blew, coaches and players huddled at center court, and Brown proceeded to let them hear it. He claimed it was the worst five-minute drill he’d ever seen and demanded better moving forward.

“Every time we practice, every time we have shootaround, it’s my job to evaluate the team,” Brown told reporters. “I told the group there. I said, ‘I know, for sure, I’m not going to sit back and watch us play the same way we played defensively without making changes.” It was a spirited message from their head coach after a preseason and training camp where the word physicality was seemingly repeated hundreds of times.

“Our team, from top to bottom, has to understand that we’ve got to defend,” he continued. “And we will not finish 25th or 26th defensively as a team.” To continue building off last season’s progress, they must find ways to improve on the defensive side of the ball. De’Aaron Fox seems to have raised his intensity there, but he and Domantas Sabonis need to echo Brown’s messaging to their teammates.

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“It starts with Fox and Domas, for sure,” Brown said. “But, everybody falls in line with that. It can be anybody. In Golden State, it was Andre Iguodala. When I was in Cleveland way back in the day, this guy wasn’t even starting for us. It was Eric Snow. It can be anybody at any time.”

Newcomers Chris Duarte and JaVale McGee bring varying defensive capabilities; the latter is a known vocal leader. Their teamwide accountability and commitment to the defensive end of the floor must exist from early on. Coach Brown isn’t asking. He’s demanding.

Also, Sabonis shared that their last two days of practice “haven’t been the best” despite their efforts. Wednesday’s regular-season debut in Utah allows Sacramento to formulate their defensive identity and start the 2023-24 NBA season as hoped.

Sacramento Kings 2023-24 regular season schedule

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

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