When the Sixers first came to the TD Garden this season for the Evan Turner buzzer-beater game, the enthusiasm Brett Brown emitted pregame when talking about reviving the Sixers-Celtics rivalry was infectious. And the second time around, when I asked him about Michael Carter-Williams' progression during March, he spoke passionately about how top point guards like Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook play with a confined anger. It's nearly impossible to resist his Bostralian charm.
Years of hearing Doug Collins spew Basketball PhD clichés and watching Eddie Jordan entrap an athletic, young roster in a slow and groggy Princeton offense, hearing Brett Brown speak so fervidly about basketball and his promising roster full of rookies was a breath of fresh air.
Back during Brown's introductory press conference in August, I distinctly remember texting Levin, "Move over Sam Hinkie, I have a new man crush and his name is Brett Brown." Hearing him preach before and after games while he looks you in the eye was something else.
Many will reflect on this season and view Michael Carter-Williams as the lone bright spot for the future. But the little things Brown did game in and game out — calling timeouts with 30 seconds left in the first half with his team down a ton to capitalize on a teaching moment — were arguably more invaluable.
The one-handed three-point shooting battles that he and Nerlens Noel had before each contest this season may have seemed like a childish game to the casual observer. But turning a rehabilitation process — of both Noel's knee and his shot — into a fun competition is just another small indicator of how Brown is always thinking big picture.
Sixers majority owner Joshua Harris graded Brown's first season with an A in his post-season media session last week.
"In terms of developing young players, the system he's put in place around preparation, around nutrition, around how they travel, around training, in terms of his team that he's built up — his assistant coaches — in terms of his communication [with the media] in terms of some of the things he's done on game day, so we have a whole set of criteria we judge him by," Harris said.
The energy Brown maintained during this building block of a campaign is a testament to how on board he is with Sam Hinkie and Harris' ownership group's master plan. If you're not in shape, you're not playing. The congruency the organization is showing top to bottom is Spursian and refreshing. Brown is a central a cog in that foundation as anyone.
"Brett is exceeding expectations," Harris added. "We were very excited to get him, but he's done a great job and been a real partner [with the front office]. The rebuilding process we went through was particularly hard on Brett, but he still put in countless hours developing players."
Brown didn't install a team defensive scheme this season. But I can assure you that was by design. Why spend hours that could be used improving your players' offensive repertoires to work on defensive rotations with players that will mostly be in the D-League next season? The man was under Gregg Popovich's tutelage for all four of San Antonio's championships. He knows how to build a program and run a system. Sam Hinkie trusted him enough with a four-year contract, that's good enough for us.
In the words of Harris: "Building a team capable of winning an NBA championship, there are no shortcuts to it. It takes a long time."
Former Spurs asst & current 76ers head coach Brett Brown was at SAS practice Sat. He told Danny Green PHI will make playoffs next year— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) April 19, 2014
So that's probably wrong, but 2014-15 will certainly be a platform for Brown to display just how well he can coach with more than five or six NBA players on his roster. Seriously, he coached this group to 19 wins.