NBA Sixers

Why Philadelphia’s Problems With Brett Brown Exist on a Macro Level

Whether or not you want him or not, Brett Brown is right here to remain.

The Sixers’ head coach was never in jeopardy of dropping his job, assured by managing companion Josh Harris that he can be returning for a seventh NBA season no matter what happened in the playoffs.

For whatever purpose, individuals on this region seem to be totally cut up on Brett Brown. He’s both liked by Process varieties or completely hated by old-fashioned Philadelphia sports activities followers. Then individuals accuse the media of being within the bag for him as a result of “he’s a nice guy,” which I read on Twitter each third day. I really feel like zero Brett Brown middle floor exists, like our 2019 political local weather, where you’re both a Republican or a Democrat and average ideas get shouted down by each side by way of partisan frothing.

So it’s with a impartial strategy that I’ll try to explain why I feel the said problems with Brett exist on a macro-level scale, a more common philosophical aircraft quite than than one exhibiting extra discernible shortcomings.

To start out, let’s truly go backwards, let’s begin micro, and I need to use Mike O’Connor’s story from The Athletic, titled “The Ten Things We Learned About the Sixers During Their 2019 Playoff Run.” Mike is likely one of the greatest basketball minds in town, and he lists the following as adjustments Brett made in the Brooklyn and Toronto collection:

  • Benching T.J. McConnell after Recreation 1 of the Nets collection and enjoying Butler as backup point guard
  • Shifting to more aggressive off-ball defensive schemes towards Brooklyn
  • Choosing apart the Nets by adding layers to their “Hawk” play towards Brooklyn in Recreation 3
  • Shifting Simmons onto Leonard at halftime of Recreation 1 towards Toronto (And subsequently tweaking the rotation to align Simmons’ and Leonard’s minutes)
  • Slotting Embiid on Pascal Siakam, and Tobias Harris on Gasol beginning in Recreation 2 towards Toronto
  • Sending double teams towards nearly each mismatch starting in Recreation 2 towards Toronto
  • Benching Boban Marjanovic for Greg Monroe in Recreation 2 towards Toronto
  • Usually, shifting to an offense based mostly extra on the pick-and-roll throughout the playoffs

All of that’s 100% spot on, and I’ll add a few, after the leap:

  1. Mike mentioned this above, matching Simmons’ and Leonard’s minutes, however Brett additionally changed his common subbing patterns towards Toronto, leaving three starters in the recreation alongside Greg Monroe and James Ennis to match Nick Nurse’s strategy of enjoying his starting unit for almost all of the first quarter. JJ Redick and Joel Embiid, as an example, initially exited, then got here again in on the 2:49 mark in the 1st quarter of recreation two.
  2. In the fourth quarters of several Toronto video games, Brett opened with 4 starters towards two Raptors starters, which helped push leads while Kawhi was off the ground.
  3. Mike additionally talked about this as a sidebar in his story, but they didn’t change screens with Redick, they as an alternative had him hedge and recuperate. That worked fairly nicely in the half courtroom, nevertheless it’s very troublesome to do in transition.
  4. So as to add to Mike’s first bullet, the Sixers didn’t have James Ennis for recreation one. He came again in recreation two on a minutes restriction and replaced Jonathon Simmons.
  5. Jonah Bolden was used at power forward with the starters to open the second and fourth quarters of some Brooklyn games. Redick remained on the bench to start those stretches.

This was micro degree stuff, small X’s and O’s varieties of issues that Brett obtained principally right within the playoffs. I assumed he made the appropriate tweaks throughout the course of 12 video games.

In fact, with regards to making adjustments, the counter argument often goes one thing like this:

“Well, they had to lose game one to force adjustments. They were on the back foot.” Or, “If they had showed up in game one, Toronto and Brooklyn would have been forced to adjust instead.”

That’s true. The Sixers discovered themselves down 1-Zero in each collection and needed to make the primary set of modifications. They have been unable to place the early strain on their opponent and obligate the first adjustment to Kenny Atkinson or Nick Nurse as an alternative. Brett definitely might have had some foresight to say, “you know, I don’t think Boban is gonna work in this Toronto series,” but you possibly can’t really know till you set him out on the floor and see what occurs. That’s why I feel a lot of of those “rotational” issues fall more on your basic manager, who leaves you with a brief bench crammed with question marks. There was no strong backup for Embiid in the playoffs. Ought to Zhaire Smith have been activated? Why did Furkan Korkmaz play? In the long run, Brett appropriately crunched his rotation right down to 7.5 players for the finale towards Toronto.

Once I look again on the Japanese Conference semifinals, I actually don’t assume the Sixers misplaced due to Brett Brown. I don’t assume he was “outcoached” by Nick Nurse. I’d say the teaching battle was in all probability a wash, and I feel the Raptors made a few more massive plays when it mattered. They finally obtained one thing out of their bench. I feel the Sixers missed some open photographs on the end of recreation 4. Joel Embiid wasn’t healthy. I’d put the game seven execution on the gamers greater than the coach, if we’re being trustworthy, since two of the ultimate performs we talked about in that matchup have been simple designs the Sixers have run plenty of occasions before.

Brett, for my part, acquired the micro-level stuff kind of right.

The complaints I see on social media and listen to on the radio are macro degree. Individuals hate dribble hand offs. They want Embiid to get his “fat ass on the blocks.” They hate turnovers, which the Sixers have said they’re prepared to reside with as a byproduct of their play fashion. They don’t assume he attracts up elite-level plays out of timeouts and in half-court situations. They don’t feel just like the group was “ready to play” in recreation 5. They don’t like Brett’s offensive philosophies normally, which he himself defined and doubled down on earlier this week.

And that’s effective. You’re completely justified in feeling the best way you do. When you don’t like how Brett approaches the game with this mix of personnel, there’s nothing incorrect together with your opinion.

That leaves us with, once more, a macro-level clash of concepts. Should you’re a fan of decide and roll and isolation basketball, and you assume Embiid ought to spend more time in the paint, that’s all good and nicely. In case you would reduce down on passing and transition in an effort to limit turnovers, superb. It doesn’t necessarily imply Brett’s a “bad coach,” as a result of I don’t assume he’s, it means you and Brett have a totally different strategy to the fashionable day NBA. Neither aspect is necessarily “right” or “wrong,” as a result of there are various ways to play the game.

Brett just isn’t a micro-manager and he has usually been a hands-off sort of coach. He thinks play calling is overrated, as said many occasions earlier than:

“In general, I think that play-calls can be dangerous to flow and feel and movement and pace,” Brown stated. “Organic basketball interests me way more than play-calls.”

This is one space the place I disagree with him, and it’s in all probability my largest concern with Brett shifting forward.

It’s fantastic to trust your players. I like that part of it, however I personally assume this turns into a drawback when the half courtroom offense turns into caught in 1st gear and typically Brett lets his workforce try to play their means out of it. I feel he can do extra to get the offense unstuck, whether that’s calling bread and butter horns sets or double staggers or simple issues that get the staff to start out organically shifting and passing once more. Brett places a lot of trust in a 22-year-old, non-shooting point guard to grease the wheels on the fly, and whereas Ben is getting better at being a flooring basic, that is one area of the game where a coach can actually become involved.

Brett is extra of an “install a philosophy and stick to it” sort of guy. Jay Wright, the fashionable decide to switch him, is just not dissimilar. They both run variations of a movement offense. The ideas of spacing and sharing the basketball are very much alike. Massive East coaches have noted that the Wildcats have perhaps a half-dozen calls in their playbook, which is evidenced in how they freely strategy the majority of their games. They don’t want performs because they belief their base offense and their philosophical strategy. They trust gamers to make the correct reads and the suitable cuts, when to assault and whatnot. It’s similarly natural to what the Sixers do.

But playoff NBA basketball is more half courtroom stuff, extra isolation, extra decide and roll, more grind-it-out possessions. Recreation seven appeared more like Syracuse vs. Pitt in the 2010 Huge East event, somewhat than a typical regular season, no protection NBA recreation. That’s where I feel Brett’s area and tempo offense loses a bit of steam, since you just aren’t getting Ben Simmons his straightforward bullshit transitional buckets, the ones he gets towards the likes of Chicago, New York, and Charlotte. Brett’s type is more suited to the common season relatively than playoff basketball, and although it’s just like what the Warriors run, Golden State has multiple future Corridor of Famers of their starting five.

In that means, I feel Brett can evolve a bit, and he did transfer in that path this yr. Individuals have been clamoring for Jimmy Butler decide and roll and that’s what you bought – Jimmy Butler decide and roll. He moved away from his favourite ’12’ play with Simmons and Redick, calling it only a few occasions in the Toronto collection. He didn’t call for a lot of elbow with Embiid and Redick. Oftentimes, Brett was okay with Butler orchestrating late-game situations while sprinkling in calls when essential, such as the Brooklyn recreation 4 sequence where he ran that dual-action elbow set 3 times in a row. They threw in some hawk cuts and used Ben Simmons as a screener. The wrinkles are there, so it’s not like they are incapable of getting deeper into X’s and O’s.

Earlier than making my ultimate level, I’ll say this –

I feel individuals usually overvalue the influence of NBA teaching generally. How much coaching did Nick Nurse do in recreation seven? Did he draw up some superb sideline play with 4 seconds remaining? Nope. They received the ball to Kawhi, he traveled, then bumped into the corner and hit a ridiculous fadeaway shot. Equally, Mike D’Antoni doesn’t even coach James Harden, he just lets him do his thing. How a lot did Tyronn Lue manage LeBron James in 2015?

A 3rd macro concept, and most necessary, is something I can’t outline. You possibly can’t outline it either, and it’s Brett’s behind the scenes strategy with Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. How arduous does he push Joel to care for his physique? Is he “too close” to Simmons since he has history with the family? Moreover, is Ben even a point guard? Should Joel be allowed to take as many threes as he does? Will he ever shoot nicely sufficient from past the arc to justify a four-in, one-out method with Ben sitting within the paint? Embiid shot a career-worst 30% from three this season.

This is captain obvious stuff, but Brett is hitching his wagon to the concept Joel and Ben will develop their video games to the point where the overlap in talent set is feasibly less redundant, to the point the place it solves a lot of the offensive spacing issues that exist due to Ben’s unique talent set. Someone wants to improve their shot, and Brett doesn’t seem to care whether or not it’s Ben or Joel, judging from feedback made this yr and at Tuesday’s exit interviews.

Brett Brown likes his ideas. “The pass is king,” you’ll hear him say. Turnovers are a needed evil that include the territory. Simmons’ leap shot doesn’t have to be precedence #1 shifting ahead. It’s okay if Joel hovers a bit because he’s not going to be an 82-game rim runner. These are all things Brett has said many occasions before, and he’s tripled and even quadrupled down on these philosophies through the years.

You don’t have to love it, however it’s what you’re getting. We all ought to know by now who Brett Brown is as a coach.