In some ways, it seems like it’s been a lot longer than a year since Brett Brown was hired as the coach of the Philadelphia 76ers, a singing that took place in the middle of last August. Perhaps unlike several other situations around the bottom of the NBA standings, from Brown to general manager Sam Hinkie and all the way on up to ownership, there is shared vision, values, and work ethic.
When he was hired, Brown had previous head coaching experience (in Australia), and previous NBA coaching experience (in San Antonio), but not NBA head coaching experience. From this perspective, it might have appeared risky to endow Brown with a guaranteed four-year deal.
One year in, and the relevant question is not “Will Brown remain in Philly until the end of the contract?” but rather “How many years will his extension be?”
What’s remarkable about the interlocked partnerships between Brown and Hinkie and the team is that they have had a specific and shared vision for the team from the day Brown was hired. This is quite the contrast over recent head coaching hires across the league, which have been inspired by old and chummy (and perhaps obsolete) networking connections — see Byron Scott in Los Angeles, Derek Fisher in New York, or Jason Kidd in Milwaukee.
On the day Brown was hired, he and Hinkie held a press conference in which they answered questions from the media for nearly 45 minutes. The first part of the interview is below, with the second part here and the third part here.
I found the entire duration of the press conference really interesting, a fascinating and honest look into the thought processes of these two influential men. What’s perhaps most compelling, though, is how accurately and precisely Brown and Hinkie predicted the events of the oft-trying 2013-14 season. They knew how they wanted to approach the season and, by having so many of their words become true, it’s now clear that they were not throwing out empty words during this conference.
Brown, on the pains of rebuilding:
We all know that the pain of rebuilding is real. We all will experience it. It isn’t something that happens quickly. [...] There needs to be a tolerance, there needs to be a patience.
Brown also spoke about the Sixers’ plan for conducting prolific amounts of transactions in pursuit of the young players who fit best. Even though this is Hinkie’s area of operation, Brown is able to speak so precisely about their plan it’s quite evident that he is on the exact same page as his General Manager:
Next year, when you look at it, it’s going to be an educated science project where we try some different things and look at some different things with players and give young players a chance. So that we can have a shot polishing up something that really is a talent.
Where Brown really becomes exact in his vision for the future is laying out his ideas for a fast-paced team — this, before the correct personnel was necessarily in place:
I’m not saying you’re going to sacrifice scoring just because you’re going to play good defense. I think it’s one of the great mistakes people make, that when you come up and you talk about defense, it doesn’t mean that you’re a low-possession team. We want to go. We want to get out in open court, and we want to run. It’s one of the things that, when we assess measurements — what type of measurements should we look at to determine whether we had a good year or a bad year? Forget wins and losses. One of the main things we’re going to look at is pace. We have to feature among the top teams in the league, or heading in that direction. If I’m really going to stay true to my word that we’re going to run — and we’re going to run — but it’s easy to say that. You got 30 coaches in the league that would get up here and say the same thing. Everybody wants to run. It’s hard running. It’s hard running over 82 games, and you really can’t do that unless you have an extraordinary fitness base and you play 10, 11 deep.
If Brown and Hinkie really do want to use pace to determine whether the 2013-14 was a success, well, they played at the fastest rate in the league.