“You can speak on it.”
Mike Brown, new head coach of the Sacramento Kings, did not shy away when the elephant in the room was mentioned. The days of Chris Webber and Peja Stojakovic are a distant memory. Since then, fans of the organization have grown accustomed to failure. Their misfortunes in the draft speak volumes about the cloud of misery that has shrouded the Kings for more than a decade. The Marvin Bagley tragedy highlights their recent selections having baffled and disgruntled fans to a point of submission. It gave impetus to the notion that ideologies are transferable; perhaps failure is an idiosyncrasy, not a coincidence.
It’s hard to shake the stench off when each move the organization made elicited a sigh. Case in point: Davion Mitchell. Despite his defensive upside, the already-established backcourt of De’Aaron Fox and Tyrese Haliburton left fans exacerbated when he was picked ninth in the 2021 NBA Draft. The cornerstone of the organization himself in Fox has raised questions over the past year in terms of his ability to flourish with the team around him. Last season was, once again, destined to be a write-off. Another failed attempt at progression only to fail once again in the draft lottery.
Here’s where the cynicism flips.
In a move that could well have doomed the organization back to square one, the Kings traded Tyrese Haliburton and Buddy Hield for Domantas Sabonis, Jeremy Lamb, Justin Holiday, and a 2027 second-round pick, shocking the NBA world. It was somewhat understood that the duo didn’t work together but it all led to the idea that Fox would be the one moved.
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Despite the rocky start to his career, Haliburton had shown enough to be the eventual ray of hope that could take the organization over the edge. He loved the fans and his teammates. He wanted to stay. In a moment, it all changed.
Sabonis has shown his ability to be a multi-pronged offensive threat. His presence has allowed Fox to showcase his skills. The numbers reflect the same. Per StatsMuse, Fox has averaged 27.8 points, 6.2 assists, and 4.2 rebounds in 13 games with Domantas Sabonis in his career, an upgrade over his 23.2 points, 5.6 assists, and 3.6 rebounds season average.
In the offseason, the Kings traded for Kevin Huerter, a 39 percent shooter from beyond the arc. They also acquired Malik Monk, a former teammate of Fox, and Kent Bazemore, a veteran wing.
The 2022 NBA Draft showcased another turn in philosophy for the side. Jaden Ivey was declared quite clearly as the fourth pick of the draft, his scoring ability shining too bright to pass up on for the Kings. Fans had prepared themselves to deal with another overcomplication of the guard spots. However, Ivey made it abundantly clear that he had no motivation to sign with Sacramento, even refusing to send in his medical records or work out with the organization. The Kings, instead, went for Keegan Murray, a 6-foot-8 forward from Iowa. A star in his own right, Murray highlighted how the Kings were adamant about sticking to the game plan. Many took no time in drawing comparisons to the team’s previous draft woes, but it’s evident why the Kings went with Murray, who has all the makings of being the right fit for the team.
It all screams one thing: ambition. The additions not only bring much-needed depth and talent to the roster but fit into the playstyle that is more suitable for their two stars. The faith shown towards Fox as their future might just be the ignition the side needs. A distributed approach to responsibilities will only help elevate his game on the defensive side, something the fans have been clamoring for. President of Basketball Operations Monte McNair has been adamant that a postseason run is pivotal for the franchise’s development.
The hiring of coach Mike Brown speaks to the slowly-building synergy within the organization. With a plethora of experience as head coach and assistant coach in the NBA, Brown has showcased he has never been one to turn down a challenge. He has coached the greats of the game in LeBron James and Kobe Bryant, even picking up the Coach of the Year award in 2009 with the Cavs. Since his joining, he has made it abundantly clear that he wants to see Fox deliver on the defensive side as well, not afraid to hold his star player accountable.
There finally seems to be a plan for the Kings. Even the most despondent fans of the team are starting to believe. There seems to be a sense of homogeneity.
This brings us back to Mike Brown and his undeniable honesty when it came to the Kings and their history. His words aligned with the organization’s actions over the past few months. The culture needs an upheaval. Winning needs to be the norm, not a fortuitous happenstance. It is now important, more important than ever. The pieces are in place but won’t be for long. Potential can attract disappointment just as much as it can bring prospects.
History says many things, none that are too favorable towards Sacramento. However, the organization has a shot. The players can change how they’re spoken about and how they’re perceived.
The Sacramento Kings have the opportunity to write their own history.
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