The Sacramento Kings have a new coach in place ahead of the 2022-23 campaign as they have turned to Mike Brown in a bid to end a 16-year absence from the playoffs.
Sacramento moved quickly last season as they axed Luke Walton as head coach in November after a 6-11 start. Walton had been in charge for two full seasons but the team decided a change was required and Alvin Gentry was placed in interim charge.
The Kings ended the campaign with a 30-52 record in 12th place in the Western Conference and Gentry was then fired.
Sacramento have now had 16 consecutive losing seasons, the longest streak in NBA history, and Brown's first task will be to end that miserable run.
They do have a few incredibly talented players within their team and, with 10th spot good enough for a place in the play-in tournament, reaching the postseason isn't out of the question for Brown and the Kings.
Sacramento are rated at +20000 to win the conference outright, but is Brown a man who can end their run as perennial strugglers in the West?
Brown played college basketball for the San Diego Toreros but never played in the NBA. The Ohio-native had spells working as an assistant coach at Washington Wizards, then was under Gregg Popovich at San Antonio Spurs and under Rick Carlisle at Indiana Pacers, before landing his first head coaching position at Cleveland Cavaliers in 2005.
Brown led the Cavs to the playoffs in his first season in charge, in what was LeBron James' third campaign in the NBA, and ended a seven-year absence from the postseason for the franchise. He remained in charge of Cleveland for five seasons and reached the playoffs in all of those campaigns but was unable to deliver a championship to the Cavs, losing out to Popovich's Spurs in the 2007 Finals.
The 52-year-old was axed by the Cavs in 2010 and then hired by Los Angeles Lakers as Phil Jackson's replacement. Brown lasted just one full season in LA, then had another sting with Cleveland in 2013-14 and since 2016 he has been the assistant coach at Golden State Warriors, where coincidentally he replaced Walton.
As an assistant, Brown has won the championship with the Spurs and the Dubs (three times) and has worked under three championship-winning coaches in Popovich, Steve Kerr and Carlisle.
Brown agreed to take charge of the Kings back in May before completing the season and ultimately winning another title with Golden State, and he may well be the man to get the Kings back into the playoffs.
One of the problems the Kings have had over the last 10 years or so has, clearly, been recruitment. But now they arguably have the strongest and most balanced team for a number of years, going into the 2022-23 NBA season.
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In De'Aaron Fox, they have an elite level point guard who has averaged over 20 points-per-game in each of his last three seasons and is now coming into his sixth campaign in the NBA.
The decision to trade Tyrese Haliburton and Buddy Hield to Indiana last year raised a few eyebrows but ultimately looks a good move. That deal saw two-time All-Star center/forward Domantas Sabonis arrive in Sacramento and that gave them a quality big man they desperately needed, while Justin Holiday and Jeremy Lamb were also included in that deal, providing further depth.
The Kings 'best' starting line-up next season could be Richaun Holmes at center alongside Sabonis and Harrison Barnes in the front court, with Fox and Holiday as the guards. They also have former Milwaukee man Donte DiVincenzo, Maurice Harkless and Josh Jackson among their options and rookie forward Keegan Murray should be able to make an impact.
That team is clearly good enough to compete with most, but whether or not they can reach the postseason next year remains to be seen.
If that line-up belonged to a team in the East they would probably be rated as top six hopefuls before the season began but the Western Conference is full of quality.
Brown is still a young coach but he has plenty of experience and knows what is required to make a team capable of challenging for titles.
However, If Sacramento are to reach the playoffs - it means at least two from the Dubs, Memphis, the Lakers, the Clippers, the Mavs, Phoenix, Minnesota Timberwolves, Denver Nuggets and Portland Trail Blazers will have to miss out, and that is a big ask.
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