Sacramento Kings general manager Monte McNair has been named the 2023 NBA Executive of the Year, the league announced on Wednesday. He is the first Kings executive to earn the honor since Geoff Petrie, who did so in both 1999 and 2001.
Executive of the Year is voted on by fellow executives around the league, and McNair received 16 of the 30 first-place votes to win by a comfortable margin ahead of Koby Altman of the Cleveland Cavaliers. Justin Zanik of the Utah Jazz and Calvin Booth of the Denver Nuggets finished tied in the voting in a distant third place.
McNair, who was hired in 2020, played a significant role in helping the Kings get back to the playoffs this season for the first time since 2006, which ended the longest active postseason drought in major North American professional sports. The Kings didn’t just sneak in either, they earned the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference at 48-34. Dating back to their creation as the Rochester Royals of the NBL in 1945, the franchise has won more games than that in a season just seven times.
This season and McNair’s award are a good reminder of how quickly reputations can shift in the NBA. Just over a year ago, McNair and the Kings were getting ridiculed in the media for trading away Tyrese Haliburton in a win-now move to acquire Domantas Sabonis. Now, the Kings are one of the most well-liked teams in the league and McNair is the toast of the front-office world.
McNair didn’t do anything that drastic this season, but he did make a number of solid moves that helped solidify the Kings —— as a playoff team.
First and foremost, he selected Keegan Murray with the No. 4 overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft. At the time, that was seen as a mistake, but Murray turned out to be a perfect fit alongside Sabonis and De’Aaron Fox, and finished fifth in the Rookie of the Year voting after putting up 12.2 points and 4.6 rebounds per game, while shooting 41.1 percent from 3-point land.
In addition, McNair acquired Kevin Huerter from the Hawks and signed Malik Monk in free agency. Though Huerter struggled in the playoffs, he had a breakout season, averaging 15.2 points, 3.3 rebounds and 2.9 assists, and shot 40.2 percent from beyond the arc. Monk, meanwhile, was a major spark off the bench, adding 13.5 points and 3.9 assists on 35.9 percent from deep.
All three of those players helped the Kings build the best offense in the league. In fact, their 118.6 points per 100 possessions was the highest offensive rating in NBA history. Even taking they style of play in the modern era into account, that’s an incredible accomplishment.
The Kings’ season may have ended in disappointing fashion with a Game 7 loss at home to the defending champion Golden State Warriors, but with the core of this team coming back they should be in line for consecutive playoff appearances for the first time in nearly two decades.