With perhaps the most anticipated Sixers training camp less than a week away, coach Brett Brown held his annual media luncheon to discuss the state of the team.

Let’s take a look at some of the most interesting things he had to say and interpret what those things should translate to this season. 


What Brett Said

On Al Horford: “When I learned that we had signed him, I thought two things: we took something away from the Celtics and we got something for us that, by any standard, he is uniquely special and I just am excited to have him in our locker room and I’m excited to coach him.”

What it Means

The loss of Horford to the Celtics is clearly forefront in Brown’s mind.  No longer will he have to watch Al get away with assault and battery on Joel Embiid.  Rather, Brown can look forward to Horford doing the same to Giannis Antetokounmpo. Additionally, Brett focuses on Horford’s addition to “the locker room”.  The departure of J.J. Redick clearly left a leadership void. The addition of Horford clearly fills this void as the team waits for Embiid and Ben Simmons to eventually take these reigns.  While J.J. was a high-quality individual, Horford’s game should be more relatable to Ben and Jo than Redick’s ever could be.


VIDEO from the Luncheon

 


What Brett Said

“Joel is Shaquille O’Neal with soccer feet.”

What it Means

If Brett truly believes this then it would be incumbent upon him to design a new offense where Joel spends far more time below the foul line.  Realizing that this is the NBA of 2019, not 2001, no one should expect to see Jo live in the post a la Shaq. However, it is also reasonable to want to see him spend far less time outside the three-point line.  Also, with the addition of Horford, it would seem obvious that he is far better as a big to initiate offense from the top of the key. Unless the plan is for Al to stand in a corner, it is hard to imagine Jo spending as much time at the top of the key this year.


What Brett Said

On Josh Richardson – “I think Josh really has a chance to hold us together.”  Says J-Rich will defend the opposing team’s ball handler.

What it Means

The addition of Richardson has the chance to be transformative at the defensive end.  His ability to defend the league’s elite players off the dribble will add a whole new dimension to the defense. Robert Covington used to fill this role for the team. While Cov was/is clearly an elite defender, his strong suit was not covering elite ball handlers off the dribble.  With Zhaire Smith and Matisse Thybulle learning from Richardson, the possibility exists for the Sixers to have multiple elite wing defenders for the first time since the process began.


What Brett Said

On Ben Simmons’ jump shot – “My judgement is going to be just the willingness to shoot…he’s invested the time to shoot the shot better than he has.”

What it Means

Perhaps no other individual issue will be more important to where the Sixers end up than this one.  For the Sixers – and Ben Simmons – to be the best versions of themselves, Ben has to be a willing perimeter shooter. Brown is right to judge based on Ben’s willingness to shoot, rather than the success of his shooting. The challenge for Brown will be to keep Ben shooting from the perimeter even if he struggles.  Maybe Simmons makes Brown’s job easy and consistently knocks down 18-footers from day one. Realistically, this will not likely be the case.


What Brett Said

“I want the #1 seed…of course we’re going to say not to the detriment of Joel’s health, but I will put it out there now: I want the #1 seed.”

What it Means

There is a certain amount of danger here.  Before last season Brett talked about making sure his team would be the best version of itself come playoff time.  Then things happened like Joel playing 37 minutes against Charlotte on a Saturday night in October (sixth game of the season and team was 2-3 prior).  These kinds of things cannot happen this year. The improved roster should help with that, but as Brown also noted, he doesn’t want to “burn down” the 33-year-old Al Horford, who will need his minutes managed as well.  The #1 seed would be wonderful, but better would be a healthy and rested Embiid and Horford headed into the grind of what will hopefully be a championship run.


What Brett Said

“Talent does not trump time” (with new players) at the start of a season.

What it Means

For the first time in his tenure, Brett starts a season with a settled team and high expectations.  Brown has not been one to often make excuses. Now he doesn’t have any even if he wanted them. 


What Brett Said

On the Sixers’ size: “You can write this in crayon…We will end up playing smash-mouth offense and bully-ball defense.”

What it Means

Not sure what it means when someone says to write something down in “crayon?”  But for the Sixers to win a championship with this roster, no truer words could have been spoken.  This type of basketball is a 180-degree departure from where the NBA stands in 2019. Brown himself often refers to the pass being king. And while that may be true, especially with a player of Ben Simmons’ passing ability leading the offense, the road to a Sixer title runs through the Sixers imposing their will on opponents. Brett Brown’s ability to design offensive and defensive schemes that enable this to happen will likely determine both the Sixers and his fate. 


Photo Credit: Clutchpoints.com
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