As Zach Lowe initially reported two days ago, the Sixers have hired Brandon Williams away from the NBA. At the time, we figured it was for a front office role. Now, the Sixers (and Sevens) have confirmed that he'll be their general manager. From the official release:
The Philadelphia 76ers announced today that they have added Brandon D. Williams to the front office. Williams will also oversee the Delaware 87ers as General Manager, the first in team history. The Sevens begin their inaugural NBA Development League season in late November.
Williams joins the clubs after serving eight seasons in the NBA's League Office, most recently as the NBA's Associate Vice President of Basketball Operations. Prior to that position, Williams served as the Director of Player Development in the NBA's Community and Player Programs department. He worked closely with teams across the league in helping prepare players for the demands of being a professional athlete as well as aiding their eventual transition away from the game to a second career.
Williams is well versed in the challenges a young player faces in his pursuit of making the NBA. A standout player at Davidson, Williams earned All-Southern Conference First Team honors as a senior in 1996. After going undrafted, Williams played both overseas and in the Continental Basketball Association before appearing in his first NBA game as a member of the Golden State Warriors in 1998. The following season, Williams was picked up by the San Antonio Spurs, who went onto win the NBA Championship. All totaled for his career, Williams played internationally in six countries. He also experienced the D-League up close as an Honorable Mention All D-League player for the Huntsville Flight in 2003.
When we first heard about the hire from Lowe, I went to do a little research to see what I could find on Williams. The answer: not that much. But what I did find, mostly from the public version of his LinkedIn profile, included the buzzwords that we've seen connected with so many hires the Sixers organization has made since the end of last year:
Past | Director of Player Development at NBA
"Player Development" is a term we've seen a lot thrown around these parts, because it's a generic title that can be taken to mean a lot of things, but in any case is intended to help players get better. In some cases, it's coaches who help players develop their skills on the court so as to be more effective there. In others, it's the people who help players acclimate to the league, learn how to balance work and life, manage their money (or in the case of D-Leaguers, the lack of it), and represent the team and themselves professionally.
Williams seems to fall in the second category, based on what I've heard and on the news release. I'm sure he knows a lot about basketball and will be making basketball decisions for the D-League team - working for the NBA and now being named a general manager of a team implies that - but I'm also sure that he can help the developmental Sevens players with things that are more important than the game.
And those things do carry over to the court. That's why this Brandon Williams hire can be so important - because these off-court things matter in the grand scheme of building a basketball team. Even if it's only on a minor-league level.
The Sixers organization is seemingly doing everything in their power to make sure that young talent has the potential to grow and succeed. As a fan, I can't be happier with these personnel developments, as they should in time help our players as well.