Second-year Kings head coach Mike Brown is aware that the club is heading into the 2023/24 season with serious expectations for the first time in a good long while. As the reigning Coach of the Year tells Mike Scotto of HoopsHype in an extensive new interview, his team is hoping to improve on last season’s 48-34 record. Sacramento did secure the West’s No. 3 seed, but was ousted in a seven-game, first-round playoff slugfest by the Warriors.
“We’re a good team,” Brown said. “We established that narrative with our play last year and our connectivity and work throughout the summer. Now, we’ve got to continue building on that. We’ve got to go from good to great. Our expectations aren’t just to make the playoffs again. We know that’s who we are. Our expectations are to go from good to great and be an NBA champion, just like every other team out there, that’s competing as hard as we feel like we’re going to compete this year.”
The whole conversation is well worth reading in full. Below are just a few key highlights.
On winning his second Coach of the Year award in 2023:
“The reality to me is I have a fantastic staff, and you appreciate their work. At the end of the day, I recognize greatness, and I truly mean that our players stepped up, and everybody in the organization did too. I’m not just talking about my coaching staff. I have at least four or five guys on my staff right now who are ready to be head coaches. I’ve been saying that. I’ve tried to tell people about Jordi Fernandez. Others on my staff are ready to be head coaches right now.”
“I recognize how blessed, fortunate, and lucky I am to have not just a great coaching staff but a great medical staff, and a great performance and conditioning staff. I love the guys in the front office, ticket sales, community relations, and (COO) Matina Kolokotronis. To see the vertical and horizontal levels of trust we have with all the levels in the organization, in my opinion, showed itself in the best possible way with me being named the unanimous Coach of the Year because I know I didn’t do it by myself.”
“Those two guys have to continue taking leaps forward, but part of the reason why we brought so many guys back is because I firmly believe in order to have a winning culture at the highest level, you have to have a core of guys that you believe in and are able to play together year after year so that connectivity can grow to an insurmountable level. This is our first year of trying to bring our guys back to establish that core, so that means everybody we bring back has to elevate their game. Keegan Murray, Kevin Huerter and Harrison Barnes all have to elevate their game, especially knowing the way we like to play on both ends of the floor.”
On Malik Monk‘s shot at Sixth Man of the Year honors:
“He has a chance. Malik Monk is one of the most talented guys I’ve been around. He’s not 6-foot-7, but if he was, he’d be All-NBA. He’s that talented. It’s going to be up to him what he wants to be. I thought last year, coming in, his work ethic and his focus were pretty good. Just like how everyone else can help us improve internally to help us become a better team, Malik can, too. His talent level is there. Now, he’s got to be locked in 24/7, 365 days a year, when it comes to hoops. If he is, and he doesn’t take anything for granted, he’s in great shape and locked in by playing every possession, the sky’s the limit for him. He can shoot the three. He’s got a medium (mid-range) game. He’s one of the best I’ve seen in pick-and-rolls.”
On the growth of second-year forward Keegan Murray:
“If you think about it, last year, the way we played with our pace and our body and ball movement, he got a lot of his shots off the catch-and-shoot. Now, we expect Keegan to bring the ball up if he gets a rebound and initiate the offense, be a little selfish, and go get his shot, which you saw a couple of times throughout the preseason and when he played in Kings Summer League action in Sacramento. Not only that, but offensive rebounding. He’s worked hard on his body. Defensively, don’t get bullied… Be able to guard the ball in pick-and-roll situations. These are some areas, like going to get shots off the bounce that Keegan worked on that we’ve been fortunate to see throughout the offseason. Now, we expect him to do that come game time.”