Philadelphia 76ers: The Beauty Of Brett Brown’s Inbound Plays

Oct 6, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers head coach Brett Brown (R) talks with forward Dario Saric (9) during the second quarter against the Washington Wizards at Wells Fargo Center. The Washington Wizards 125-119. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 6, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers head coach Brett Brown (R) talks with forward Dario Saric (9) during the second quarter against the Washington Wizards at Wells Fargo Center. The Washington Wizards 125-119. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports /

The Philadelphia 76ers may still be one of the lesser effective offensive teams, but their inbound plays will bring a sliver of ingenuity to the games.

Brett Brown and the Philadelphia 76ers have been patient with each other. More Brown being patient with the team to bring him the appropriate talent he needs to win games. It seems like that time is coming soon, as the arrival of Joel Embiid and Dario Saric have sparked a certain type of excitement in Brown.

It is sometimes hard to remember this is Brown’s first NBA head coaching job, and a tough first job to say the least. Agreeing to be apart of a historical rebuild in his first go at head coaching is nothing to scoff at, and it could end up being career-threatening at the end of it.

Still, after three horrid seasons, Brett Brown and the Philadelphia 76ers remain intact through various injuries and a huge management shift. His December contract extension has given him financial security, while job security can still be questioned to some extent. For now, the Philadelphia 76ers have given him trust to move the team forward this season, and his game plan may do just that.

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The pace and space offense will continue to be the scheme in the regular season as it has been thus far in the preseason. It’s rare to see any complex half-court sets from the Philadelphia 76ers, who will feed the post in hopes of maximizing the abilities of their front court while also opening up space for their sparse shooters. With transition ball continuing to be the trend, Brown will have to rely on player IQ.

Player IQ has been missing these past three seasons. That’s mostly because of age and inexperience within an NBA system, but that is starting to shift. As the young players continue to grow, additions of smart veteran free agents should alleviate the lack of half-court play calling.

The loss of Ben Simmons was also costly for Brown. Simmons, despite not being a scorer, was what Brown envisioned to be the player that could facilitate the offense in transition, and then use his elite playmaking ability to create open opportunity when their pace is slowed. This loss will prove to challenge the scheme of Brown, who will likely place Sergio Rodriguez in that role to keep the tempo up.

For how “simple” his offensive scheme is, his inbound plays are disparate. Getting the ball in from underneath the hoop is often simplistic for teams with talented offensive players, but for the Philadelphia 76ers it’s imperative to score on designed plays with lesser talent.

Elevator Doors

Last season, basketball minds were in awe over the cleverness of Brown’s ability to get a shooter open strictly through play design. The Philadelphia 76ers made Isaiah Canaan a marksman off inbound plays, through their “Elevator Doors” play.

Here’s how the play looks on the clipboard.

As you can see, it’s basically two sets of screens that should allow for an open shot in the corner. The shooter comes off the first screen and naturally at least one defender will trail him. The shooter’s quickness becomes a factor as he then squeezes in between two big men screening, who are coming together like an elevator door would when it closes.

Here’s what the play looked like last season with Canaan taking the shot.

Watch as Canaan catches the ball, Robert Covington rolls off the screen towards the basket. This takes away trouble from any defenders who try to read the play early, giving the Philadelphia 76ers an easy dump off down low. This play is effective with decent execution almost every time, whether it’s an outside shot or an easy layup off a quick pass.

Multiple Screens Open Up Multiple Options

The next inbound favorite is even more complex. The break down is this: The player at the top of the key gets a screen from the player (who is typically a shooter) to open up an easy lay in down-low. If that doesn’t come into play, the screener comes off a screen from the player to the right, curling out for an outside shot. If that is defended well the player on the left will cut across to the post on the nearside of the ball. He also has the option of setting a screen for the inbounding player who will make a run to the top of the key.

This play was used less than the more effective “Elevator Door” play, but it can be effective with good execution. Which is what the Philadelphia 76ers failed to do in the preseason matchup with the Boston Celtics:

This play gives the Philadelphia 76ers around 6 different options in the matter of 5-8 seconds. That’s what makes Brown ingenious. Of course with more complexity comes more opportunity for mistake, but repetition will come throughout the season. This play is almost unstoppable in many ways for teams without quick defenders. (It should be noted that the Celtics will be one of the better defensive teams in the league.)

Next: Sixers Will Go As Far As Joel Embiid Takes Them

For how ability-reliant Brown’s offensive sets are, his inbound plays set up his players for success without much else needed. The doubters of Brown will find it harder and harder to ignore his brilliance as schematic head coach. If the Philadelphia 76ers allow for the time and talent, this marriage between them and Brown may turn out to be a beautiful matrimony.