#1: How does Mike Brown approach team defense?
This should be one of the main things Coach Brown and his team try to work through in training camp. Last season, the Kings mostly relied on outscoring opponents.
A lot of times it worked. Few teams could effectively stop the highest-scoring offense the NBA has seen so far. At the same time, however, the Kings struggled to stop opponents as well.
They have little to no rim protection, which limits their defensive ceiling but the problems on the perimeter were just as important. Throughout the regular season, the Kings allowed 118.1 points per game, which ranked 25th in the league, and they did not affect many shots.
Opponents shot an average of 49.2 percent on field goals (29th in the league) and 37.3 percent from three (25th in the NBA), which makes for very efficient numbers. While the Kings rebounded well—especially considering how undersized they are—and only allowed 12.7 second-chance points per game in the regular season, they also allowed opponents to score 53.5 points in the paint, which was only good enough to rank 26th in the league.
As a result, it is difficult to win games when their offense isn’t running on all cylinders. So now the question is how much longer they can rely on outscoring opponents and what they will do to improve their defense.
Over the summer, the Kings didn’t bring in any especially defensive-minded players so it seems that they are hoping for internal improvement from De’Aron Fox and company under Mike Brown’s guidance.
Before coming to Sacramento, Brown was the puppet master behind Golden State’s title-winning defense and has made it a point of emphasis to hold all his players accountable. As the team is constructed now, however, they will never be a top defense, no matter how hard Brown coaches them.
Luckily, they might now have to be one, though. The Denver Nuggets, for example, didn’t have a top-10 defense either when they won the title, but they were good enough. If the Kings can improve enough to get to the middle of the pack as a team it might be sufficient but the question is how they can get there.
Not everyone on the roster suddenly has to turn into a defensive menace, but can they collectively improve through hard work and sheer willpower or will they have to bring in a defensive stopper?
This is something fans should start watching in training camp and keep an eye on when the trade deadline rolls around.