Brett Brown is the next coach to go. He has a team cohesion conundrum that he cannot solve.
The 76ers are the drama queens of the league, able to attract attention for the smallest of things and create a storm in a tea cup. Many may argue that this would be to the detriment of the team, but I beg to differ. This team, some how thrives on media (social media) attention. The more controversy there is, the harder they play.
However, don’t get me wrong. Lighting a fire to motivate the team to play hard won’t address key fundamental issues to be addressed in this team. If all doesn’t lead to an NBA final appearance or a championship win, I dare say, coach Brett Brown is gone!
I remember watching Brett Brown coach back in the old days in Sydney and Melbourne, Australia. He was some what successful, particularly with a smallish out of city team named the North Melbourne Giants. But when it came to coaching the big city team – the Sydney Kings – I would say he was mediocre at best. The Kings had an “average” record under the helm of Brown. Greater expectations were left underachieved, leaving fan base bemused, until a new coach came in to sort out the mess.
Measuring success as a coach, in my opinion, is not simply looking at the win loss ratio. It’s unfair to criticize a coach who inherently has a team of players with less skills and ability than another. But Brett Brown led a Sydney Kings team that were relatively talented.
I recall during those seasons, a sloppiness among the team that would make you cringe. Simple mistakes such as, being alert to when a time out has expired and having the team ready on the court to defend the in bound, were carelessly overlooked. The Kings were off court still in team huddle whilst the opposition immediately scored an uncontested layup as soon as the ref blew the whistle to start play. Another screw up was the inbound then bring the ball up the court play. OK, this isn’t a play per se, but they screwed up who to inbound the ball to, resulting in a steal by the opposition. What tha hell?
These are basic mistakes, and some fault could be laid on the players, but overall the coach must be held accountable for this. Needless to say, the Sydney Kings disappointingly finished middle of the pack during Brett Brown’s reign. After Brown’s departure the Kings won consecutive championships under the helm of the NBL’s most successful coach – Brian Goorjian. This is no coincidence, in my opinion, that the Kings began a winning dynasty after Brown left. Brian Goorjian was a defense minded expert, and instilled a discipline that is desperately needed when you bring a group of talented individuals together.
Fast forward back to today. And there is a sense of de ja vu. The 76ers are an immensely talented team. Built on “The Process” which involved tanking to obtain high draft picks. No other NBA team in the history of the league has so painstakingly tanked with such obviousness and without remorse than the 76ers. Embiid and Simmons are two key players that landed them in Philly through “The Process”. These two are arguably generational players. They only come once in a life time with a skill set none other have. But they have weaknesses that need a little padding. These weaknesses can be overcome with a good coach, a coach that can bring cohesion.
Ben Simmons is a mad dog lock down defender. He has the speed and lateral agility to defend guards and swing players. He is also big enough and strong enough to defend centers. Switching is not a problem with Simmons. He can switch all day and lock down anyone. If I were to build and defensive team, Simmons would be the foundation to build upon.
Simmons is also a fantastic point guard on offense. He sees the floor like no other, and can create passes that shorter point guards will not be able to perform. His glaring weakness that has been spoken about ad infinito is he shooting. Simmons can’t shoot for shit. His three point shot is non existent and he appears he won’t be attempting to change his game in the coming years. This poses a dilemma in the current NBA strategy of small ball stretch the floor and space. Simmons needs to be surrounded with strong shooters who are fast and agile. Simmons flourishes in a team with quick ball movement, dynamic, and pushes the tempo.
Embiid on the other hand is a slower tempo to his game. Power, strength and technique allows him to bully other players. He can shoot the three ball, has a low post game, and can power through the paint. The weakness to Embiids games is that he is fragile, slowish and has the maturity of a 13 year old boy that is going through puberty. Petulant at times and frustratingly idiotic. Trump like in statements made to the public, it can become confusing which team is he actually playing for. Is he playing for the 76ers or the opposition?
When putting these two players, Simmons and Embiid, on the court together you can get the sense that they are incompatible. They get in the way of each other. Simmons needs movement whilst Embiid needs a player that can shoot the three to stretch the floor. Brown needs to solve this cohesion issue and quickly. “The Process” has been in the process for so long now, and all know that it can’t get any better with draft picks. The 76ers got what they needed through tanking. Tanking is no longer an option and now it is time to win.
Cohesion is a skill that many great coaches have. Brett Brown, can you bring it together to save your coaching role? Team management and players are expecting no less than a trip to the NBA finals. The pressure is building, and now it’s time to deliver. If not, then it’s adios amigo.