I've seen enough. As of February 3rd, the Lakers stand in 12th place, but I see hope on the horizon. LeBron James is about to break the all-time scoring record, Anthony Davis is back and looking healthy again, Rui Hachumurai has been a great addition, and Kyrie Irving may be on the way. The Los Angeles Lakers are going to...
Far-Fetched Friday: Monte McNair wins NBA Executive of the Year
By: Khaqan Khan
It's been 17 years since the Sacramento Kings have been in the playoffs. Over those 17 years, there has been a laundry list of basketball malpractice at the hands of the Kings front office, which explains why they have been unable to be successful. Fans thought the tides changed when newly appointed general manager Monte McNair drafted Tyrese Haliburton 12th overall in the 2020 draft. That optimism didn't last long. Halfway through the season, Mcnair traded Halburton for Domantas Sabonis, causing an uproar around the league, leaving everyone saying, "same old kings." However, since that trade, McNair has been motivated to prove himself right and get this team to the playoffs. Every move he made is beginning to make sense, and we are starting to see the birth of a new era of Kings Basketball.
Welcome back to Far-Fetched Friday, where every Friday we give you a bold prediction that we believe will come to fruition. This Friday, we look at a forgotten NBA team in California.
The acquisition of the off-season might have been the hiring of Coach Mike Brown. After spending six years as an assistant on the Golden State Warriors, Brown married his charisma and enthusiasm with the system he learned at Golden State. A lot of actions the Kings utilize resemble what the Warriors have run under Steve Kerr. This brand of basketball and more improvement on defense is elevating the players, allowing them to gel together, and establishing an identity of Kings basketball. A specific identity, whatever it may be, is perhaps one of the most vital competencies that correlate to success year in and year out in the NBA. It allows players to play with clarity in their roles, encourages good habits, and allows a healthy culture to grow.
With Fox and Sabonis in place and Mike Brown as the head coach with a new system, McNair's next move was to acquire Kevin Huerter from the Hawks and reunite De'Aaron Fox with his college teammate, Malik Monk. Brown's style and the Sabonis/Fox combo require spacing. Huerter and Monk provide that, but more specifically, they can shoot off the catch, allowing Brown's system to thrive. The threat of shooting around an action opens up opportunities for cuts. Now Sabonis can play to his strength. He's no Jokic, but he can still deliver timely bounce passes to the cutter.
More about the impact Mike Brown's system: How stealing from the best turned a franchise around
Coming off the Haliburton-Sabonis trade, King's fans found solace in having the 4th pick in the draft and being able to replace Haliburton with prolific prospect Jaden Ivey. Oof, the reactions when they took Keegan Murray instead of Ivey on draft night. Obviously, it's way too early to pass judgment on the draft, but the early returns of Murray have made fans forget about Ivey. He's been solid, playing 28 minutes a game and averaging 10 points on 42% shooting and 35% from three. Yea, those aren't eye-popping numbers, but his fit on the team is seamless. There is a maturity to his game that will allow him to blossom in this system. Right now, he's a complimentary player, but with his skillset and demeanor, he should steadily grow into a difference-maker.
Through the first quarter of the season, the Kings are 13-10, right in the playoff picture. The players are starting to buy in and feel more comfortable in the new system. The brand of King's basketball is one that any basketball purist and casual fan love to watch. Up-tempo, 3pt shooting, and ball movement. No, the Kings probably won't make the finals anytime soon, but fans finally have something to root for that doesn't feel like fading. Monte McNair had a plan, and we are seeing it come to fruition. This aligned vision will allow the King's franchise to find stability and sustained success. For that, he deserves the Executive of the Year award. This team is very likable and very easy to root for. I think we speak for everyone when I say I hope they can light the beam in May.
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