Following a disastrous and disappointing season that saw the Sixers finish 34-48 on the year, new General Manager Sam Hinkie and the front office decided to part ways with fan favorite coach, Doug Collins.
The search for a new head coach was a long and difficult process as many coaching candidates viewed the Sixers’ roster as one of the worst in the league.
After four months of interviews, Hinkie tabbed Spurs’ assistant coach Brett Brown to be the new head coach of the Philadelphia 76ers.
The expectations for Brown’s first year were extremely low due to the roster in place for him to work with. In fact, Brown went on record saying that his team had only “five or six basketball players on the roster”.
It would take a lot of work for the first year head coach to make strides in the right direction with this young team. As the All-star break approaches, how has Brett Brown faired thus far?
Through twenty five games, the Sixers have the league’s fifth worst record standing at 12-23. This record is far better than many of us fans thought it would be prior to the start of the season.
Offensively, Brett Brown’s system of being a run and gun team is a perfect fit for this roster. The roster is filled with young, athletic players who love to get out in the open court and shoot at will. Brown has also implemented a very complex half-court offense involving pick and rolls and putting the ball in MCW and Evan Turner’s hands. Players are in constant motion to go along with quick passes to get open shots. When the Sixers’ are going right offensively, watching this team run their half court sets is a thing of basketball beauty.
Offense has not been much of the problem for the Sixers as the team is tenth in the league in team offense. Brown’s Sixers are averaging 102.7 PPG while shooting 44% from the field after finishing dead last in offense (93.2 PPG) last year under Doug Collins. Moving forward, there is great promise for this Sixers’ team offensively if Brown can continue to be the offensive maestro that he has become for this team as he orchestrates the playbook and if the team can draft a scoring wingman in this year’s upcoming draft.
The only real negative argument one could make against Brett Brown is his defensive strategy. As a team, the Sixers currently rank dead last in the league on the defensive end allowing opponents to score a whopping 111.1 PPG on average. Teams around the league are scoring at will against Brown’s defense whether it be inside around the rim or outside the paint by making jump shots.
If that number does not make you quiver while watching the Sixers on defense, heres another ridiculous statistic for you.
The Sixers are giving up 10.3 three point field goals per game. That’s thirty points from behind the arc alone. There have already been a handful of games where opponents have hit over fifteen three pointers as a team or individual players have lit it up from behind the arc. Just the other night against Cleveland, CJ Miles knocked down ten three’s on fourteen attempts.
Defensive shortcomings are at the forefront of the problems for the Sixers, but Brett Brown needs more help to fix this problem. That help will most certainly come next year when Nerlens Noel returns to man the paint and the team drafts a new wingman. Brown will have all offseason to fix his defense.
The most important area where Brown has excelled in thus far is player development.
Evan Turner has transformed his game and has finally become an efficient scorer under Brett Brown. The four year veteran is averaging a career high 19 PPG in his breakout season. Thaddeus Young is also benefitting from Brown’s tutelage and offense as he has upped his scoring average to 17 PPG.
Brown’s schemes and teaching has perhaps influenced Michael Carter-Williams the most. The rookie point guard had several question marks about his shooting ability and taking care of the basketball coming out of Syracuse University.
Brett Brown has given Carter-Williams the keys to the offense and allowed him to play his game from day one. As a result, MCW is the leading Rookie of the Year candidate and the leader in most statistical categories. The twenty-two year old is averaging 17.7 PPG to go along with 7.1 APG and 5.7 RPG. With Brown on the sideline coaching his young point guard, Michael Carter-Williams will only get better.
The improvement in each young player’s game has been evident since the beginning of the season and Brett Brown’s teaching strategy is the reason for the growth of this team.
It is tough to evaluate a coach when the season is not even half way done, but Brett Brown has exceeded the expectations placed on his shoulders. The team is growing each game and that is all we as Sixers’ fans can ask for.