Could Philadelphia 76ers’ Brett Brown win Coach of the Year?
War can do strange things to a man.
When a man goes into battle—a real war of attrition, literally or figuratively, he comes out differently. How can he not? All his mental and physical faculties are put to the test, and either he celebrates a victory, or is sent back to the drawing board.
Now basketball isn’t a life or death battle—but it is a battle in which the will is tested, and the body is pushed, and mind is exhausted. Ultimately, should you survive, you should learn something about yourself.
That brings us to a new NBA season. While players prepare to push themselves to new limits, and higher goals, we mustn’t forget about the orchestrate of battle: the head coach.
After the ups and downs of the past NBA season, the Philadelphia 76ers should have learned a lot about themselves—about what it takes to push past the obstacles and reach for the high prize of a Championship ring.
What about Brett Brown? What must it feel like to knock off the Miami Heat in round one, and then pummeled in round two, by what looks to be this year’s Beast of the East, the Boston Celtics? His counterpart, Brad Stevens, is a mastermind. Methodical, clever, and innovative. Brown was certainly out-coached in the playoffs, but is there hope for him to regroup and take the next step?
It would appear so. The Philadelphia 76ers look really good on paper. The core’s level of talent, combined with the very high ceiling that practically none of them are even nearing appears to be the envy of the NBA General Manager discussion and Zach Lowe’s annual must-see League Pass rankings.
So, what of their intrepid leader, Coach Brown? Dwane Casey is the reigning Coach of the Year; Brad Stevens was voted best coach by the GMs, so what does Brown have to do to not just get into the discussion about NBA’s best coach, but surpass the others, and obtain the crown? Lets find out.
After-timeout plays are something Stevens does considerably well. In fact, it’s must-see-TV. Brad comes out of those short breaks with innovative, disruptive and frankly, brilliant plays. Brett Brown’s team often has trouble executing out of the timeout.
Crunch time poise
Some of this is nerves of a young team—but, some of it is coaching.
Many of the big moments from the past season etched in the minds of many-a-fan are turnovers late in the game. As noted, sometimes it is youth, but those players have to be put in the right place if they are to make the right play.
For Brown, a lot of this is him learning, which is okay. This does not make him a bad, or inept coach, by any stretch of the imagination. However, to get better at this, Brett will have to acknowledge it is a problem, and take extra pains to be prepared for closing minutes. Success is where preparation meets opportunity; in other words, experience is only half the battle.
Use of timeouts
I rarely make use of the first person when writing, but I have to say—nothing upset me more, last year, than the inappropriate use of the timeout.
When your opponent is on a run—shut it down. When your team starts to press because of turnovers, trouble scoring, etc.—shut it down and regroup. When you miss the correct moment for a timeout, things can get ugly very quickly.
A lot of this is personnel driven. You use what you have as you see fit. When you don’t have ideal tools then you do the best you can.
This year, however, there is literally zero reason to see Simmons and McConnell on the court together. There are actually a handful of guys McConnell should never see time with, but as mentioned in previous articles, Brown has to make sure that he is figuring out the right pairing, to minimize turnover, and make sure scoring is always available on the floor.
Brown will have to work very hard to overcome even the perception of Steven’s ability. Brad is seen as the “it kid” right now, and that kind of perception is hard to overtake, even if you technically perform better in your coaching duties.
Nevertheless, Brett Brown’s team must finish in first place for him to win Coach of the Year. Those are the hard facts of the matter. Unless the entire Eastern Conference under-performs, that is what it will take to earn this crown.
I both hope and anticipate the best of Brett Brown this year. There is no need to mention the Xs and Os for him, because Brett is fundamentally sound in play calling in general; but, if he can pay special attention to some of the above matters, we will be celebrating another Sixer milestone, and this author will be putting another check mark on his list of “things I said that ultimately were proven to be correct.”
The list is getting long.