Brett Brown coaching

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Brett Brown deserves to coach the Sixers in 2019-20

Dave Uram
April 18, 2019 - 9:07 am
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The Brett Brown bashing is officially ridiculous. 

Related: Win or lose, the Sixers' future is still bright

He may be on the hot seat. He may not. 76ers owner Joshua Harris showed support for the sixth year head coach shortly before to the team’s playoff opener against the Nets, but at the same time left the door open for a potential change when Harris was asked specifically if Brown will be in Philadelphia next season no matter what. 

“We have a lot of confidence in Brett,” Harris said before Game 1. “We’re glad that he is leading us into the playoffs and we’re focused on the Nets. We’re focused on winning series and that’s what we’re here to talk about today.” 

Brown has earned the chance for at least one more season, regardless of how this one ends. The only justification for a potential change is if the Nets utterly dominate the Sixers over the remainder of this series, like they kind of did this past Saturday. That’s not going to happen. The Sixers should win this in six, and when that happens, the backlash some fans express towards Brown should cease at least until 2019-20. 

Don’t be mistaken—I’ve noted on more than one occasion how Brown’s end of game strategies are questionable. I’ve questioned a number of his lineup decisions, like recently putting Jonathon Simmons ahead of Zhaire Smith on the depth chart​. I even switched sides on the debate about Joel Embiid’s usage prior to the All-Star break. 

That being said, to think this organization will be better off next season without Brown is preposterous, and here’s why. 

1. Brown built this program after Hinkie laid the ground work

Former 76ers General Manager Sam Hinkie set the Sixers up to be in opportunities to select potentially franchise altering talent with high draft picks. Brown’s 178-314 record in the regular season is the prime stat to support that. But, Hinkie hasn’t been in Philadelphia since 2016, while Brown has. 

You can argue Hinkie was “forced out.” You may be right. But, in the end, he still submitted a legendary 13-page resignation letter. 

Since Hinkie’s exit during the infamous 10-win season, Brown and his staff developed Embiid, Ben Simmons, Robert Covington, Dario Saric and T.J. McConnell. It’s true, four out of five of those players were acquired by Hinkie. It’s also true that talent plays a big part in their successes. This isn’t meant to be a slight to Hinkie, but Brown oversaw their maturation while the former watched from afar. 

Ignore Brown’s overall regular season coaching record of 178-314. That’s the product of Hinkie’s drastic rebuild—one that was without an NBA quality point guard for good chunks of Brown’s first three years with the organization. 

Brown was here when the program went from 10 to 28 wins, which included a memorable month of January in which Embiid showed signs of super stardom, once healthy enough to play. With young, budding stars in place since 2017-18, the Sixers won 52 and 51 regular season contests, respectively. That included a historic winning streak to get to 52 and an unusual amount of in season overhaul and roster influx during the 51-win campaign, which is currently in its postseason. 

It’s not easy to accomplish back-to-back 50 win seasons, especially when the franchise’s “crown jewel,” Embiid, missed decent chunks of both due to various injuries. Also, don’t forget that Brown has basically coached three different teams this season. Seven players who were at Media Day are elsewhere, and six players who were elsewhere then are here now, some with significant roles. On top of that, the potent starting five the front office constructed as a result of two blockbuster trades, hasn’t played much together—only 10 of a possible 28 games in the regular season, and two postseason contests. The main reason for that is Embiid’s knee soreness. Yet, the Sixers still won 51 games and locked up third place in the East, in large part thanks to a 31-10 record at Wells Fargo Center, which hasn’t been this electric for NBA basketball since the days of Allen Iverson. 

Hinkie gave Brown the ingredients to the recipe, which Brown took, overcame some bad taste testings and turned into a fun dish called Sixers basketball. 

2. Brown won Game 2, whether he takes credit or not 

True, it’s only one game. But, if Monday’s fiery Game 2 halftime speech proved anything, it’s that Brown is capable of motivating his players when it matters most, even if he downplays the affect his hollering had. 

“I mean I think it’s one of the great myths of coaching to think like that’s what coaches do,” Brown said. “You got about so many bullets a year.” 

Brown used one of his at the right time, and it worked. 

“The thing I like most about this group is that they do let me coach them,” Brown said. “There is a togetherness and a locker room respect for one another that I appreciate.” 

Simmons was a fan of Brown’s message, which apparently featured profanity. 

“Called me out a few where I messed up on plays, and yelled at me,” Simmons said. “I love to see that side of him just because it motivates me.

“That’s about the first time I’ve seen him like that with energy, but for me I loved it,” Simmons said. “I love seeing the coach get like that because it fires everybody up. Let’s everybody know this isn’t a joke, we got take it seriously and it’s our job. So, for us to see that side, yeah, we love that.” 

“Well, you want it to be authentic too,” JJ Redick said. “That was the big difference I think for us was seeing that it was legitimate sort of frustration and anger. Anybody can come in and scream and act like they’re mad, but Brett is a very authentic guy, and it was great to see him sort of in that mode.” 

Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris also spoke highly about what Brown did. Simmons might’ve set the tone for Game 2 by coming out aggressive after he was booed in Game 1, but Brown kicked everything into gear, and it’s why the series is even at one. 

“It wasn’t even an emotional reaction, it was just the truth,” Brown said. “We said we wanted to do this and we didn’t. And so we showed it and we talked about it.” 

3. Brown has a better eye for talent than you think 

Brown has only been in charge of one of the five draft’s he’s been around for. Remember, Hinkie officially hired Brown after acquiring Nerlens Noel and selecting Michael Carter-Williams. 

This past summer, he drafted Mikal Bridges, and flipped him into Smith, a promising young player who had unfortunate circumstances happen his rookie season. Brown later drafted Landry Shamet and Shake Milton. Milton could be a reliable back court role player in the future, and Shamet, one of the league's best shooters already, just hit a big time fourth quarter shot for the Clippers

Even though Brown’s time as interim head of basketball operations was short lived, it proved he’s got a better eye for talent than we previously knew of. And while it’s ultimately Elton Brand’s decision to construct the roster going forward, Brown could be a reliable asset for Brand. Until he proves otherwise, it looks like Brown is a decent evaluator. 

BOTTOM LINE

Steph Curry played six NBA seasons before winning his first of three NBA Championships. Klay Thompson went four seasons. Draymond Green went three. Michael Jordan went six. LeBron James went eight. It doesn’t happen overnight for most stars and superstars. Phil Jackson didn’t win an NBA Championship as head coach of the Chicago Bulls until his second season. Not everyone can be Steve Kerr. 

Brown has been a loyal, classy representative for the Sixers since the day he arrived. With all the maneuvering done by this organization, he has not had the chance to coach one group of players for more than two full seasons. 

Assuming the Sixers are able to advance to the second round, a strong effort should be made to return at least four of the five members of the starting five, and give Brown at least one more opportunity to coach this relatively new team. To dump him as a result of potential failed expectations with a roster he’s had for just a few months, missing its best player for a good portion of that time, isn’t right.