How did the Sacramento Kings finally find their formula?

The Sacramento Kings are winning games and loaded with good vibes. How did this long-suffering franchise finally turn it around?

It’s been 16 years since the Sacramento Kings last made the playoffs. but as of today, they’re 13-9, in fifth place in the Western Conference and have a 66 percent chance of making the postseason, according to FiveThirtyEight’s ELO prediction model.

With De’Aaron Fox thriving, Domantas Sabonis turning the Ty Haliburton trade into a win-win and a deep roster of supporting players stepping up, the Kings are enjoying their best run in nearly two decades.

In a new episode of The Step Back Podcast, ESPN’s Mark Jones joined hosts Ethan Skolnick and Brady Hawk to discuss the Sacramento Kings and how this struggling team finally got on track.

How has Mike Brown helped unlock De’Aaron Fox and the Sacramento Kings?

“De’Aaron Fox has been unlocked this year,” said Jones, “and that goes directly back to Mike Brown.” He went on to add, “Mike Brown is coaching De’Aaron Fox harder than he’s ever been coached and that goes back to the culture change that had to be established.”

Jones also shared a specific example of just what he meant: “The first preseason game, against the Los Angeles Lakers, De’Aaron is guarding Russell Westbrook, Westbrook scores two easy baskets and Mike Brown calls one of those Gregg Popovich time-outs 30 seconds into the game and he gets into De’Aaron about it. And ever since then he’s coached him hard and everyone else is falling in line.”

Fox is averaging 23.1 points and 5.8 assists per game, numbers well off his previous career highs. But he’s shooting better than he ever has from the field, beyond the 3-point arc and from the free-throw line, becoming a much more efficient offensive player overall.

“When you look at Sacramento offensively and how he fits, Mike has done a great job of taking a lot of those Golden State concepts. It’s a lot of read-and-react. De’Aaron has the ball in his hands a lot less time than he did in the past and it’s made him more efficient.”

Fox is averaging considerably more catch-and-shoot attempts this season and a higher percentage of his outside shots have been assisted on as he’s learned to find open space of the offensive gravity of his teammates.

The Kings currently have the fourth-best offense in the league, averaging 115.9 points per 100 possessions and establishing a foundation that could help them finally break that playoff drought.

In addition to the conversation with Jones, Skolnick and Hawk dug into the surging New Orleans Pelicans and the sliding New York Knicks.

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