|Sixers head coach Brett Brown pondering a season of headaches.|
Brown takes the reigns of this undisputed mess following 11 seasons on the San Antonio sidelines, as a recent inductee of the New England Basketball Hall of Fame, and with a four year stint as head coach of the Australian national team under his belt that saw them place 7th at the 2012 London Olympics. Wisely, Brown protected himself and assured stability and job security by insisting upon a lengthy four year contract, displaying a clear awareness of the basketball debris that burdens his new roster. He enters the fray in the midst of discussions and expert opinion that place these 76ers in contention to break the franchise's own mark for the worst 82-game record in NBA history, an unenviable task, to say the least. The declaration that Noel is unlikely to play a part at all in the team's 2013-14 schedule evokes horrific memories for a fan base that endured a treacherous run with the costly, broken down Andrew Bynum, who failed to register a single minute in a Sixer uniform last season, and does little to discredit this level of doom-and-gloom conversation.
With the regular season fast-approaching, Philadelphia figures to put forth a starting crew 'headlined' by holdovers Thaddeus Young, Evan Turner, and Spencer Hawes, a trio responsible for middling, subdued results when sharing substantial minutes together. As lineup regulars in recent seasons, the Turner-Young-Hawes combination appeared in a considerable sample size of 74 regular season outings in 2012-13, managing a meagre +/- of +0.1 points per 100 possessions, per NBA.com stats. This, if anything, is a harsh truth for Brown and illustrative of what he will have to work with in his inaugural season on the job. Brown will struggle mightily to address the barren offensive output overseen by Doug Collins, which was good for a placement of 30th in the league rankings, with an average of 93.2 points per game, also per NBA.com. The Sixers were able to move the ball relatively freely and establish themselves in the assists department, nevertheless, dishing out 22.8 helpers per game - good for 11th in the league - whilst limiting their turnovers to an honest 13.0 per contest, 2nd best in the Association. Their ability to share, value, and manage the basketball almost certainly followed budding star Jrue Holiday out the door, however. In addition to this, spacing and opposing defense's packing the paint is destined to plague the Sixers play, at least until they attempt to address the shallowness of their outside shooting.
|Philadelphia guard Evan Turner's 2012-13 shot chart (where yellow represents league-average, green above-average, and red below-average), courtesy of NBA.com/stats.|
How Brown elects to distribute and balance minutes over the course of the season will auger an influence on the team's offensive mould to an extent, yet he more than anyone, though, will be aware of the scarce pickings on hand. Assuredly, Brown will look to accommodate the poor shooting prowess of the roster by allocating starter's minutes to fourth year guard James Anderson, a guard who has nailed 39.1% of his shots from downtown in sporadic time with San Antonio and Houston. The material outcome of this kind of dependence on Anderson will prove a learning curve for both player and coach, alike. Where Brown will not receive any production is from former lottery pick Royce White, previously of the Houston Rockets, whom the Sixers discarded this past week, having only traded for him in July. Philadelphia holds the dubious honour of being the second NBA team to give up on White, the individual who is yet to log any regular season minutes.
Brett Brown will head into Wednesday's opener at home to Miami hoping to complement his likely starters of Carter-Williams, Anderson, Turner, Young, and Hawes, with some form of bench concoction consisting of fourth year big Lavoy Allen, combo guard Tony Wroten, and relative NBA no-names Daniel Orton and Hollis Thompson. Philly will exhibit an ironically thin lineup for an organisation desperately pining for the enthusiasm of a city and a disenchanted fan base, emblazoning the team arena, merchandise and neighbourhoods with the ambiguous motto of 'Together We Build'. Cynicism aside, it will be interesting to the NBA junkie to observe how the faultlessly-honest Brown seeks to massage the veritable mess of a roster at his disposal, and just how low the squad will sink into the muddy waters of the perennial 'tanking' discussions.
|Image courtesy of nba.com/sixers.|