The Sacramento Kings made two discrete decisions during the offseason aimed at ending what has become the longest postseason drought the NBA has ever seen. First, general manager Monte McNair plucked Mike Brown off the Warriors’ bench, entrusting the former Cavaliers and Lakers head coach-turned-longtime Steve Kerr lieutenant with finding a way to drag a franchise that has not finished with a league-average defense since 2006 toward something approaching respectability on that end of the floor. Then, McNair targeted a pair of wings — Malik Monk in free agency and Kevin Huerter in trade — with the intent of adding shooting and shot-creating dynamism to a team desperate to create enough space for bookend playmakers De’Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis to cook.
Sacramento’s defense remains … well, let’s say it’s a work in progress. The Kings enter Wednesday’s action ranked 27th in the NBA in points allowed per possession outside of garbage time, according to Cleaning the Glass. But while Brown has his work cut out for him in coaxing Sacramento toward stops, he’s making those offseason investments on the offensive end pay off pretty handsomely. Just ask the Nets.
Hanging 153 points in regulation — the highest-scoring game of the 2022-23 campaign thus far — on a Brooklyn defense that had started to turn the corner under new head coach Jacque Vaughn ought to open plenty of eyes around the league to something pretty interesting brewing in Northern California. After annihilating the Nets on national TV, the Kings now rank second in the whole stinkin’ NBA in offensive efficiency, according to NBA Advanced Stats, behind only the East-leading Celtics. They’re third by Cleaning the Glass’ numbers, though, because those strip out production accumulated in garbage time … and, considering Sacramento led by 33 points after three quarters, the entire fourth quarter on Tuesday counted as garbage time.
That high-octane offense has Sacramento surging, winners of four straight and seven of their last nine — with the two losses coming by a combined six points, in games where the NBA later acknowledged critical late officiating errors that broke against the Kings. That’s right: If not for a missed Tyler Herro travel and a shooting foul on Klay Thompson, we might be talking about a Kings team on a nine-game heater, jostling with the Trail Blazers and Nuggets for the West’s No. 1 spot.
So: How are the Kings cooking fools? Well, for…