McNair: Kings' rise culmination of hard work, Brown's culture

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The Kings entered Monday's game against the Toronto Raptors as the NBA's upstart darlings, boasting a 27-19 record, good for third place in the Western Conference.

And Sacramento isn't here by accident. This isn't a fluke. General manager Monte McNair, who signed a contract extension Tuesday, has spent the last two and a half years building toward this.

Through the NBA draft, free agency and the trade market, McNair has constructed a roster that fits well together, and he completed the puzzle for this year's team by hiring Mike Brown as the new head coach over the summer.

The result is a Kings team that leads the NBA in scoring at 120.3 points per game and is one of the most entertaining teams in the league.

"It's certainly been fun to watch," McNair told NBC Sports California's Mark Jones in an exclusive interview Wednesday. "I know the fans are enjoying it. We're enjoying the ride even though there's a lot of work to do. I think it's a culmination of a lot of the things we've been setting out to do over those two and a half years.

"And to see it succeed so far, we know we have another half of the season to go and then years after that that we try to build this thing. But it's great to have some reward so far for the hard work my staff and our group have put in."

McNair has spent the last year overhauling the roster around star De'Aaron Fox, acquiring Domantas Sabonis and Kevin Huerter through trades, signing Malik Monk and drafting Keegan Murray, but arguably the biggest move he made was prying Brown away from the defending NBA champion Golden State Warriors.

The Kings needed a culture reset and while the players are important to that process, Brown's leadership and voice was the missing piece.

"In my job, a big part of what I'm trying to build is to know my strengths and weaknesses and Mike is a great compliment to me," McNair told Jones. "Mike is extremely organized, a great culture builder and I think what we found is, we have to build the culture first, lay the groundwork but you need to win to get that virtuous cycle going. And winning begets more culture begets more winning.

"And we're seeing that were our guys are buying in, they are seeing the fruits of their labor, all the hard work they put in in the offseason, all the time they spent gelling with Coach Jordi [Fernandez] and Coach Jay [Triano], and all the stuff the coaching staff has done, really, right here on this practice court, to see that, the culture just builds that up. And that starts with Mike and he's done a fantastic job."

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McNair and the Kings know the job isn't done yet. The NBA season hasn't even reached the All-Star break yet. There's a long way to go, but Sacramento is on the right path. And the end to their 16-year playoff drought is in sight.

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