Mike Brown is known around the NBA as a defensive-minded coach and when he was hired by the Kings, the expectation was that he will bring that culture to Sacramento.
However, instead of defense, it has been the Kings' offense that has led to wins. And so, Brown believes Sacramento's offense presents new challenges as he tries to tighten up the defense before the NBA playoffs.
"Right now, our strength is on the offensive side of the ball, as fast as [De'Aaron] Fox is and [Domantas Sabonis'] ability to take the ball of the ball and go coast-to-coast and make the right play," Brown told The Athletic's Anthony Slater. "As challenging as it may be for me individually to see where we are defensively, I know it's the right thing to continue to emphasize what we do best."
Currently No. 3 in the Western Conference, the Kings (32-25) have used their high-powered offense to win games. Sacramento has the second-highest offensive rating in the NBA (118.1), behind only the West-leading Denver Nuggets (118.2).
The Kings also score the most points in the NBA at 119.5 per night, are third in field goal percentage (49.4), and their 13.2 3-pointers made per game rank seventh in the league.
With the offense not an issue, Brown notes that Sacramento is not a particularly lengthy squad and typically gets hurt on the glass.
He added the Kings have to be "fundamentally sound" on every defensive possession, especially pick-and-rolls, and box out with a purpose or else they will get chewed up by second-chance opportunities.
"On the ball, our pressure has to be on point, getting over the screens," Brown continued. "Our bigs have to be up to touch so these guys aren't getting a head of steam downhill because we don't have a 7-footer at the rim blocking shots.
"That means that the protection from the vertical threat rolling has to be on point and our rotations out of it have to be on point."
Fifty-seven games into the 2022-23 NBA season, the Kings are allowing opponents to shoot 56.4 percent from inside the arc and 36.7 percent from 3-point land, both the sixth-worst in the league.
Sacramento also blocks the second-fewest shots (3.3) in the league, behind only the Miami Heat (3.0). Overall, the Kings are tied with the Dallas Mavericks for the seventh-worst defensive rating at 115.9.
Because of the lack of size, Brown preaches to his team to stop middle penetration and to force opposing ball handlers to drive baseline for more defense.
"If we keep them on the sideline, when they drive, I have the sideline, baseline, back of the rim, I got all these extra defenders, and when they throw it to the other side of the floor, it's two passes away," Brown said.
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As the season enters the final stretch, Brown knows the Kings have to play near-perfect basketball to maintain their spot, especially with many retooled Western Conference teams gunning for their spot.
The Kings certainly have their work cut out for them in the last two months of the season and Brown understands that it all begins by playing to their strengths and working on the defensive end.