Sixers: Brett Brown Is Top Asset To Have Through Rebuild

Mar 26, 2017; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Philadelphia 76ers head coach Brett Brown argues a call in the first half of the game against the Indiana Pacers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. The Pacers won 107-94. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 26, 2017; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Philadelphia 76ers head coach Brett Brown argues a call in the first half of the game against the Indiana Pacers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. The Pacers won 107-94. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports /

The road hasn’t been an easy one for the Brett Brown-era Sixers, but this year he has proven his worth to the rebuild.

When Brett Brown signed a four-yeal deal to board the Process-era Sixers, he knew the obstacles ahead of him. It was still a huge opportunity for Brown, who was once an assistant coach for the Spurs for seven years, and he took the job despite knowing the risks.

There was an understanding between both sides, and at times blame seemed to weigh heavier towards one side. The first season Brown took the reigns, his top pick in Nerlens Noel was out for the year, and the only bright spot through his debut campaign was the play of rookie of the year winner Michael Carter-Williams.

Brown’s record took a hit and frustration about some of the roster moves was shown. But still, the team had potential with Nerlens Noel returning. The 2014 NBA Draft would prove to be a pivotal one for the team, as they selected another injured big man in Joel Embiid and traded the draft rights to Elfrid Payton for Dario Saric. Neither would see the court for two seasons.

Brown and the Sixers saw another frustrating season in the books, seeing a one-win drop in the win column. There was on-court improvements, however. Nerlens Noel manning the defensive anchor role saw an improved defensive rating of 104.8 for the Sixers, the best to this date. The pace of the offense wasn’t the fast offense Brown wanted, but new guard Ish Smith seemed to glue the team together in ways former ROY winner Carter-Williams couldn’t.

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The next season would be the worst for the franchise in 32 seasons. The Sixers amassed just 10 wins all year, and inherited a big man logjam that was due to end ugly when the team drafted another center in Jahlil Okafor. Okafor failed to mesh with Noel, and the two big men struggled at times to find their own game. Brown earned still earned himself a contract extension in December, showing a commitment between the two sides.

Even with the new extension, Brown’s future with the team became murky. As the Colangelos made their charge towards the Sixers front office, Sam Hinkie resigned from his role of general manager. Bryan Colangelo was hired, and Brown now had to cater to an entirely different regime. It would have been easy to let go of Brown, considering his 47-199 record up to that point, but there was an understanding about the importance of his ability to develop young players and the current relationships they have with the coach.

The decision paid off, as there was a breakthrough in 2017. Brown’s roster talent elevated, and his coaching ingenuity was finally shown more often in his fourth season. Brown has almost tripled their win total from last season, doing so with a faster paced offense. He has coached through and even has given medical updates on Joel Embiid’s injury. He’s coached through Nerlens Noel airing of grievances. He’s coached a competitive team despite having just one center in Richaun Holmes at time.

He’s doing all this without Ben Simmons or Embiid. It’s a testament to Brown’s player development. Sam Hinkie is often credited with finding Robert Covington, Jerami Grant, and Richaun Holmes. What often gets lost, however, is the improvement they saw season to season thanks to Brown’s knack for giving role players a niche. Covington has become one of the top wing defenders in the league, and Holmes is proving to be a formidable bench big man at a low cost. Jerami Grant is playing important minutes for the playoff-bound Oklahoma City Thunder.

All three have Brown to thank. And he’s doing it again this season with prized rookie Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot. Luwawu-Cabarrot’s summer league performance left little to be desired. His inability to find a comfortable scoring rhythm pinned the “project” label on him. The past few weeks have proved differently.

Brown has given the raw prospect a minutes bump and is seeing great results. Luwawu-Cabarrot is finding his way to the rim without the ball and seeing a consistent jumper. He’s also starting to break through defensively, which would make him a dynamic role player. This all points back to Brett Brown’s best talent.

With 10 games left in the season, the Sixers sit at 28-47 with the frontrunner for rookie of the year in Dario Saric. The team is in a good place despite losing Embiid to injury after just 31 games, and failing to get Simmons back on the court as expected. With all the news of negativity and question of culture facing the Sixers it seems Brown is bringing it all together now.

Brown’s rotations are seeing improvement, even with a shorthanded roster, and is finally understanding how to adapt to the flow of the game. His promise is shining through more and more the second half of the season.

In a Matt Lombardo article for, guard Nik Stauskas had nothing but kind words for the head coach.

"“It’s awesome, having a coach who truly believes in you and genuinely wants the best from this team. Brett’s been behind us 100 percent, regardless of whether we’re winning or losing. Regardless of whether people are hurt or they’re healthy. He’s one of my favorite coaches that I’ve ever played for. The energy that he’s able to bring when things aren’t as great as we’d like them to be, has been phenomenal. We really appreciate all that he gives to us and we love having him around.”"

In that same article, Brown shows optimism for the summer. He understands how important this 2017 offseason could be for this team. Despite his weaknesses, Brown is proving his value to this organization. As the talent increases, we will see more of Brown wowing teams with offensive sets, and more wins in the win column.

Next: Sam Hinkie and the Kings

Brown is slowly turning the narrative from “stepping-stool coach” to coach for the future. The jury may be still be out for some on Brett Brown coaching a playoff caliber team, but even the harshest critic can point to how important his presence has been to the team up to this point. Brett Brown is here to stay for at least a few more seasons, and can push this team forward as the pieces around him start to come together.