Sacramento going to the playoffs? That was something to be laughed at, at least for the last 16 years. However, in the spring of 2023, that unbelievable statement became a reality. That’s a whopping 3rd in the West. Millennium Kings is a very foreign word, at least to Gen Z. As much as that, the dark period that came to Sacramento was too long. How did Sacramento become a strong team in 17 years? ‘Saeeo River’. Let’s take a look at why.
*This article was published in the May issue of Rookie.
Dark history of visiting aces
Once upon a time, the era of the Big 3 and Super Teams had arrived in the NBA. Boston in 2007 was the starting point. Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett joined Boston in turn and led Boston to the championship. Although the formation process was very different, San Antonio was also a team of the Big 3 (Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker). In 2010, Miami added Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, and LeBron James to create the Big 3. And as the culture of forming the Big 3 became stronger, the expression “super team” came into existence in the NBA. Golden State, which acquired Kevin Durant in 2016, was the representative.
But in 2019, after the end of the era of ‘Eougol’, a new wind blows in the NBA. It was a team composition centered around a powerful one-two punch, not the Big 3. This is because various restrictions in the salary cap regulations made it difficult to form the Big 3. In fact, from this point on, winning teams were built around one or two star players. It was also an era when the importance of the system was greater than star power. The Lakers in 2020 and Milwaukee in 2021 all became winning teams like that. Golden State in 2022 was also not the same super team as in the past. Of course, the team’s annual salary expenditure was enormous.
Sacramento has long wanted a star player who will be the focal point of the team. As of August 2022, the population of Sacramento is about 2.36 million. Calculating the size of the TV relay market, it ranks 19th in the league with 1.46 million viewers. That’s right at the bottom of the league.
Although it is the capital of California, Sacramento obviously did not attract star players like Los Angeles or San Francisco. Just because the Gyeonggi Provincial Office is in Suwon doesn’t mean everyone prefers Suwon the most.
Given this structure, it was important for Sacramento to nurture an ace to lead the team on their own. I couldn’t even dream of signing a free agent, and of course I had to fill the spot through draft or trade. Sadly, however, Sacramento has always failed or made problematic choices in this area. Tyreek Evans, drafted 4th overall in the 1st round of the 2009 draft, made an impact in his rookie year and then quietly disappeared. DeMarcus Cousins, who was selected with the 5th overall pick in the 1st round in the 2010 draft, was an overwhelming big man for his skills, earning the nickname ‘tyrant’. Now, there are many monster centers with skillsets such as Nicola Jokic and Joel Embiid again, but at that time, no player had as excellent skills as Cousins in the center position.
But Cousins’ biggest problem was his mentality. He often lost his composure due to foul calls, and he also had friction with the coaching staff and teammates. In a way, he has a childish side to him, so his leadership was too poor to trust the future of the franchise. Eventually, Sacramento traded Cousins in 2017.
However, Sacramento’s ability to identify players was too poor to blame only Cousins. He couldn’t avoid being a ‘side gourd’ for every pick he exercised in the draft. Zimmer Fredett (10th pick in 2011), who was highly anticipated by fans, was a big flop in the NBA, and Thomas Robinson (5th pick in 2012), Ben McClemore (7th pick in 2013) and Nick Stauskus (8th pick in 2014). ranking), and Willie Culley-Stein (ranking 6 in 2015) all disappeared from memory after showing skills that did not match the nomination rankings. Even veterans such as Rajon Rondo and Rudy Gay, who were boldly recruited, did not show enough skills to end the dark period.
In the 2018 draft, which has already become an all-time draft, nothing has worked out properly every year in Sacramento’s player recruitment, including the ‘Dongeobe (Donchichi skipping Begley)’ incident in which Marvin Begley is nominated second. In the meantime, there was virtually the only pick that Sacramento had success with: De’Aaron Fox (5th pick) in the 2017 draft. And in the 2020 draft, he even achieved the feat of appointing Tyrese Halliburton (12th pick). It was the moment when Sacramento’s sales character changed little by little.
Don’t ask, go to Sabonis!
In particular, Tyrese Halliburton was a player who was immensely loved by Sacramento fans. This is because from his debut season, he showed the potential to achieve a one-two punch in the backcourt with The Aaron Pax, with passing sense and excellent shooting power that were not commensurate with his age. In fact, among Sacramento fans, there were even fans who believed that Halliburton was more valuable than Pax. As such, the expectations Halliburton received were high.
But in February 2022, Sacramento makes a choice no one expected. He sent Halliburton to Indiana with Buddy Hield and Tristan Thompson, and brought Domantas Sabonis. It was OK to send Hild, who had already lost the trust of the fans after showing ups and downs in the attack. However, sending Halliburton, who was considered Sacramento’s future, to receive ‘only’ Domantas Sabonis, not another superstar, was literally crossing the line.
In fact, even before this trade happened, rumors were circulating that Sacramento could trade one of De’Aaron Foxes or Tyrese Halliburton. And the majority of fans and media predicted that the trade target would be Halliburton, not Pax. This is because Halliburton was a younger player with two years left on his rookie contract, while Pax was a player whose limitations were revealed due to minor injuries, too high a salary, and a playing style that did not encompass the entire team.
Even the player who sends and receives Halliburton is Sabonis, who has a clear weakness in defense and has only a year and a half left on his contract? It was fortunate that there were no riots among Sacramento fans. However, within a year, Sacramento’s choice becomes a ‘God’s move’. This would have been unexpected for anyone.
As long as the dark days of Mike Brown and Pakbonis
were long, Sacramento was a team that had a long history of brutality. Eric Muscleman, Reggie Sears, Paul Westphal, Mike Malone, George Carle, David Yeager, Luke Walton, and Alvin Gentry left the team after leading Sacramento as full or acting manager during the dark years. In particular, it is noteworthy that George Carle, who is considered a legendary coach, Mike Malone, who is currently leading Denver’s heyday, and David Yeager, who had already achieved success in Memphis, tasted failure in Sacramento. This shows how terribly loose Sacramento was.
In that situation, Mike Brown took over the baton ahead of the 2022-2023 season. Brown has already been recognized for his leadership in Cleveland to such an extent that he has already won the Coach of the Year award. However, after that, he tasted failure at the Lakers and Cleveland, and from 2016, he was only a head coach at Golden State for six years.
Sacramento asked Brown for an SOS, and Brown responded. After a short stint with Cleveland in 2014, Brown had not been coaching, but he resumed his coaching career with Sacramento. In fact, even though he was appointed Brown, his expectations for Sacramento were not very high. This is because all of the teams that Mike Brown has recently coached have had poor or lackluster results. (2009-2010 Cleveland, 2011-2012 Lakers, 2013-2014 Cleveland)
But did six years of coaching at Golden State change Brown’s leadership? From the first day of training camp, Brown, who showed the aspect of an old school coach who shuttles players who failed free throws back and forth on the court (actually, it was an instruction that could give players the feeling of an old man), succeeded in transforming Sacramento, which had not changed for 16 years. do.
The motion offense based on Domantas Sabonis’ handoff game was so beautiful that it made me feel as if I was watching Golden State’s motion offense. Here, in pursuit of aggressive basketball at a fast tempo, Sacramento fans went wild. Even though it was a new soccer field opened in 2016, the Golden 1 Center, which was always thirsty for victory, started to become crowded again, and Sacramento was reborn as a western powerhouse. For Sacramento fans, the revival period has finally arrived when they no longer have to dwell on the memories of the ‘Millennium Kings’.
Malik Monk, who played with Pax in Kentucky,메이저놀이터 Keegan Murray, who set a new record for 3 points in a rookie season, and Trey Lyles, who reached their prime in Sacramento With the addition of Kevin Hutter, who has grown into the league’s top shooter amid the Sabonis effect, Sacramento has become a so-called gangster team that ‘beats and beats’ even the strongest players in the West. It was something that was unimaginable until last season.
In the end, Sacramento, who finished the regular season in 3rd place in the West, is showing off against defending champion Golden State from the first round. As of this writing, on April 20th, they are 2-0 in the series, having won both of their first two games at home against Golden State. And coach Mike Brown enjoyed the feat of winning the Manager of the Year award unanimously for the first time in NBA history. Sacramento’s ‘impressive basketball’ may have just begun.