Sixers head coach Brett Brown has endured three life-sapping seasons since leaving his assistant post in San Antonio to steward over Philadelphia’s rebuilding efforts. Brown’s teams have lost 63, 64, and 72 games respectively the last three campaigns as the team purposely bottomed-out under former GM Sam Hinkie in an effort to retool via the NBA draft lottery. While no one realistically expects the Sixers to suddenly make the playoffs this season, the franchise has been active in the free agent market for the first time during Brown’s tenure and the team should make strides toward respectability in 2016/17.
Brown spoke with members of the media on Thursday regarding a number of subjects, including his revitalized enthusiasm resulting from the team’s positive offseason, Mike Narducci of The Philadelphia Inquirer relays. “Given our experience together, from where we were to where we are now, how can we all not feel a breath of fresh air, a new bounce, a higher level of hope and an excitement that together we haven’t experienced for awhile?” Brown said.
The coach noted that there are numerous reasons for him to be optimistic, including the highly anticipated debut of former lottery pick Joel Embiid, who sat out his first two NBA campaigns following foot surgeries, the addition of No. 1 overall pick Ben Simmons and the arrival of 2014 draftee Dario Saric from overseas, Narducci notes. Brown did acknowledge that Embiid’s health is a wild card, telling reporters, “He will play and everybody understands there will be parameters, restrictions.” The coach noted that what those restrictions will be should be determined during the preseason.
The frontcourt rotation remains a bit of a mystery, with Brown acknowledging that the pairing of Nerlens Noel and Jahlil Okafor last season wasn’t a successful one, Narducci relays. Brown did offer high praise for Noel, telling reporters, “Nerlens has elite gifts. He is athletic, quick off the floor, and as quick to the rim as anybody I have coached, as any big man in the league.” The coach refused to indulge any speculation as to which of the big men, if any, are likely to be dealt this season. “I will coach them until they are not [here],” Brown said.
The Sixers should also benefit greatly from the free agent additions of veterans Jerryd Bayless, Gerald Henderson, and Sergio Rodriguez, Brown told the media. The coach is especially excited about Philly upgrading the point guard position, Narducci adds. “If the season started today, you give Jerryd Bayless the ball and go from there,” Brown said. “I feel there will be times you will see Ben Simmons with the ball as the traditional point guard.” Brown also noted that shooting guard Nik Stauskas, who averaged 8.5 points in his first season with the Sixers, worked hard in the weight room this offseason and should benefit from that.
Do you think Brown has a reason to be optimistic at the Sixers’ chances this season? Which addition to the roster are you most excited about? Take to the comments section below to share your thoughts and opinions.