Is Brett Brown on the Hot Seat?
The Sixers’ recent struggles have the fan base are clamoring for answers. With each blown lead or turnover, the burgeoning call from the ever-patient Philly fans for head coach Brett Brown’s firing grows. Yet, is it fair or even logical to look to supplant the only coach the Process has known? Let’s look at some key issues the team has faced and where Brown stands in terms of responsibility.
In the time it has taken you to read this sentence, the Sixers have already turned the ball over four times. In all seriousness, the Sixers have struggled throughout the year with taking care of the basketball, ranking last in the NBA in turnovers. This comes from a myriad of reasons. First, the offense is based around a rookie point guard and a second-year super star in Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, respectively. These two young studs are still learning to navigate NBA defenses geared toward stopping them. This has led to their uptick in turnovers as they learn, on the run, how to deal with this defensive attention.
Similar things can be said of Philadelphia’s veterans. In particular, JJ Redick has seen a huge increase in defensive attention as he no longer has former Clippers teammates Chris Paul and Blake Griffin as the eye candy of defensive playbooks. Because of this, Redick finds himself asked to do a little more than he is capable of in some situations, jolting the offense out of whack.
It's hard to blame Brown for a roster that is going through necessary growing pains in terms of learning to take care of the ball. Turnovers, specifically for the Sixers, come from scenarios of carelessness or are born from an imbalanced and inexperienced roster trying to drive an effective offense. Because of this, I attribute little blame to Brown in this regard.
Bottom-Half Offense and Rotations
It's hard to run an effective offense when you keep giving the other team the basketball. Because of this, the offense generally stalls in the half court while players present a human representation of "No you go! No you go! Okay, Joel, go again." With such a young, turnover prone roster, it's not difficult to see issues in the offensive arena. With that understood, it's hard to pass any blame to Brown.
Regarding the rotations, Brown has done what he could. He has slowly adjusted to the reality that TJ McConnell is a useful crunch time player for this roster, replacing Jerryd Bayless with the Arizona product in those times. Brown is truly doing his best with a limited roster that provides little wing and shooting depth. Yet Brown can face blame for two circumstances in this regard - play Richaun Holmes more and Simmons less. Simmons is averaging some of the highest minutes in the league at 35.9 as a rookie. Although most would call for giving the rookie all the reps he needs, it's also fair to be very slightly cautious with a player who just missed his entire first year to injury. Holmes just simply has too much potential to not get his allotted reps. The team can afford to take some bumps in order to give a fair look at an intriguing prospect who finds himself glued to the bench a little too often.
Big Leads Blown
The Sixers are like when you used to play your dad 1-on-1 as a kid. You'd be playing around having fun, building up a big lead. And then, all of a sudden, you're walking away from the court teary eyed after your dad had to show you who the adult was and throw your lead to wayside, winning the game. The only issue with this analogy for the Sixers is for them the paternal figure has been bottom feeders like the Sacramento Kings or teams missing stars like the Portland Trail Blazers. Plain and simple, the Sixers struggle to maintain leads. They come out of the gates with great energy and ball movement. Yet, as the game bogs down, their warts become amplified and opposing teams recognize this and adjust.
Brown deserves some blame as he may be mismanaging situations of other teams going on big runs to cut down leads, but this truly falls on the oft mentioned lopsided roster construction and players missing games. In nearly every blown lead situation, a player has left the game or not played in the game: Embiid against Toronto, Redick against the Kings and Robert Covington in the nationally televised abomination game against the Blazers on TNT. It's hard to maintain the leads when key players who helped build them go down. Until Brown attains his medical degree, it's hard to blame him for his players’ health.
There's not a snowball's chance in hell Brown's job should be in question. With a minute amount of blame coming his direction for the Sixers’ struggles and his good deeds outweighing them tenfold, Brown has shown he deserves a chance to see this through. Brown has always had the Sixers ranked as a respectable defensive team throughout his tenure and shown a knack for developing players like Covington and McConnell. Brown holds good will with his players as they all rave about him as a coach. Redick even cited Brown as a main reason for coming to the team this offseason. Brown is an essential part to the Process - the earliest remaining survivor of it. Let Brett be great.
Stats Courtesy of BBall-Ref
J.J. Reddikc Quote Courtesy of Philly.com