Mike Brown

Davion reveals Brown coaching tactic that showed Kings' potential

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When Mike Brown was named Kings coach before the 2022-23 NBA season, the four-time champion instantly shifted the culture in Sacramento.

At the time, Davion Mitchell was preparing for his sophomore season in the league -- and it didn't take him long to recognize the Kings had a good chance at breaking their 16-season NBA playoff drought with Brown in charge.

During a live recording of the "#thisleague UNCUT" podcast in Elk Grove, Calif., last week, Mitchell told hosts Chris Haynes and Marc Stein how Brown's coaching of superstars Domantas Sabonis and De'Aaron Fox made him realize the Kings' potential.

"I think when I first noticed, the day he started to yell -- not really yell, but he kind of got on more of Fox and Sabonis, our best players. He held them more accountable," Mitchell said. "I feel like a lot of coaches look at their star players [like] they can kind of do whatever and they get away with it ... That’s not how Mike Brown was. He was even harder on them, just to make them better because they know they’re the leaders on our team and we’re going to follow them.

"I think when he did that, I was like, ‘Ah, we’re going to be a really good team.’ "

From the jump, Brown made it clear he was going to rely on Fox and Sabonis to help usher in a new brand of Kings basketball. Together, they did just that -- and the winning followed.

Brown's old-school approach was pivotal to Sacramento's postseason return, and his tough love toward both Sabonis and Fox helped bring out the best in two already talented players. That trickled down to the rest of the Kings, who made it their mission to break Sacramento's playoff drought and give their loyal fans a taste of the postseason again, all under Brown's watchful eye.

"I think the biggest thing Mike Brown did when coming in, being a new coach, he kind of addressed it -- the elephant in the room that we’ve got to make the playoffs," Mitchell told Haynes and Stein. "But I think what he did a really good job [of] is trying to look over that, trying to make the championship run. He always talked about that – he didn’t just talk about the playoffs ... We knew that if we’re trying to get to the championship, the playoffs [were] kind of going to be in that way.

"He kind of just looked at it like that, and I feel the team kind of just rolled with it. We thought we [were] good enough to make it to the championship and the playoffs."

The Kings were eliminated after losing Game 7 of their first-round playoff series against the Golden State Warriors, and Sacramento is hard at work building a roster to compete again in 2023-24. Sabonis reportedly agreed to a five-year, $217 million contract renegotiation and extension Saturday night, showing he wants to stay with Brown in Sacramento for the foreseeable future.

Both Fox and Sabonis enjoyed the best seasons of their careers while helping end the Kings' playoff drought, thanks largely in part because of Brown's guidance.

But if there's one thing Sacramento fans know for certain, it's that the reigning NBA Coach of the Year is far from done.

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