If Sacramento fans had their way, Mike Brown would already have a statue in front of Golden 1 Center. In his first season as the head coach of the Sacramento Kings, Brown not only took the team to the postseason for the first time since 2006, ending what was a 16-season playoff drought, but he created a new energy surrounding a franchise that has lived at the bottom of the NBA standings for quite some time.

This organization has suddenly put itself on every other team's radar and they have done so by building a culture that is focused on success. Brown expects the most from his players and staff every single day and it is clear to see that everyone is held accountable. The Kings ended up being the “feel-good” story of the 2022-23 NBA season, but simply making the playoffs is not good enough for them.

De'Aaron Fox took a big leap last year, as he was named an All-Star for the first time in his career, and Domantas Sabonis led the league in rebounding after making his third All-Star appearance. General Manager Monte McNair earned the league's Executive of the Year honors and Brown was recognized for the work he did turning this franchise around, as he was named the 2022-23 NBA Coach of the Year.

Even though playing more than 82 games is new to this organization, Sacramento knows what they are capable of and they are preparing for the 2023-24 season with the mindset that they can be real title threats. Brown and the entire front office know this, which is why he is ready to get back after it with his squad and continue building a successful foundation.

“I'm excited about it. I’m looking forward to seeing how we can handle the pressure,” Brown stated recently regarding the upcoming season, via Sean Cunningham from FOX40 News in Sacramento. “It’s flipped now. We’re no longer hunting people; people are hunting us. And there are expectations, so how do we handle that? I believe our guys are ready for it, and with the fans that we have here and the juice they brought last year – let’s go. Let’s get it!”

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The Kings may have sat at the bottom of the league's standings in recent years, but their fans have not gone anywhere. The Sacramento faithful were loud and full of energy. They embraced everything about the new culture the Kings began building last season. Chants of “light the beam” could be heard miles from Golden 1 Center after all 48 wins this team had and now that they have proven to hang with the best of the best in the Western Conference, this energy is only going to grow.

Going from the “hunters to the hunted,” as Brown alluded to, the Kings now face a new challenge entering the new season, one that they will take on with some new faces on their roster.

Kings' key offseason additions

Kevin Huerter, Harrison Barnes and All-Rookie forward Keegan Murray are all back with the Kings for the upcoming season alongside All-Stars De'Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis. Malik Monk, Davion Mitchell and Trey Lyles also return as key depth on the Kings' bench.

They may not have made too many flashy moves in free agency and during the offseason, but the Kings continued to add talent to their roster, specifically by adding EuroLeague MVP Sasha Vezenkov and recent first-round pick Chris Duarte.

Vezenkov had been rumored to be a target of the Kings dating back to last summer when they acquired his rights in a trade with the Cleveland Cavaliers. With Olympiacos in Greece this past year, the 28-year-old forward won the EuroLeague MVP award after averaging 17.2 points and 6.8 rebounds per game while recording an average performance index rating of 21.2, joining Luka Doncic (2017-18) as the only other player to record a PIR (performance index rating) of 21.0 or higher after more than 30 games in any EuroLeague season.

He was able to lead Olympiacos to the EuroLeague championship game, but they were unable to win it all, falling 79-78 to Real Madrid.

As for Duarte, he was traded to the Kings for two second-round picks, one in 2028 and one in 2030. Despite his role diminishing this past season with the Indiana Pacers, Duarte has proven to be a shooting threat on the perimeter. He shot 36.9 percent from long-range during his rookie season and can absolutely be another source of scoring on the bench alongside Monk.

“Chris Duarte is about as smooth as they come,” Brown continued. “I tell you what, his game has surprised me because I didn't really follow him in college and I didn't watch him a ton when he was in Indiana, but to see him this summer and see him play pick-up and work out; I'm excited about what he can bring to the table.”

They may not be a “super team” and they still haven't won a playoff series since 2004, but the Kings know that they are as good as any other team in the league. This mentality is what makes them dangerous and with a young, core group that will continue to learn from one another, the sky's the limit for what Sacramento can achieve.

“I'm excited that we kept our core together because they've only played one year together and I think they have all grown a lot this summer,” Brown said. “I’m excited for Sasha, I’m excited for Chris Duarte, I’m excited about our young guys. It’s good to have the new guys, but I’m more excited about having our guys to be able to run it back and give them the opportunity to grow as a nucleus than anything else.”