Brett Brown held his first zoom call since the league announced details for the resumption of the NBA season. As he prepares for a training camp prior to the team heading into the “Bubble” in Orlando, Brown discussed a range of topics. Below are the top takeaways.
All Hands on Deck
With the exception of Zhaire Smith, the entire 76ers roster is healthy and available for training camp. Brown said that some decisions remain on the 16 man roster that will travel to Orlando but that no players have tested positive for Covid-19 in the latest tests. He also said that no players have expressed a desire to sit out.
Brett Brown’s brother in law works for the World Health Organization with responsibilities in Southeast Asia. He talks to him often about the Pandemic and health best practices.
Social Justice – 99%
“Me, as a 59-year-old white man, has been jaw-dropping” Brett Brown on learning about the depths of racial injustice in America. “I don’t walk in my player’s shoes but I do know a good heart, I do know right and wrong”. Brown talked about his team meetings lately and said that the vast majority of the discussions were about racial injustice and what is going on in society. Brown focused on the human side of the time off very much in his discussions with players as a group.
Joel Embiid’s Fitness
“I look for Joel (Embiid) to come into camp in as good a shape as he’s been since I’ve coached him” Brett Brown lauds Embiid for man hours and consecutive days working in the gym. Because of his rehab from the shoulder issue Embiid has had access to Camden during the break. A healthy, in shape and active Embiid would be huge on both ends of the floor for this 76ers team. Brown has said previously that 38 minutes per game will be his goal for Joel in the playoffs.
He stressed a fitness base as an expectation for all players heading to camp. “I can take a B and turn it into an A in camp, but I can’t take a C and turn it into an A” Said Brown.
Still Built For The Playoffs
I specifically asked Brett if he still believes that the ground and pound roster construction of the team is built for the playoffs. He affirmed that he does, while admitting that the top heavy structure has been a challenge at times. He was very complimentary of Elton Brand building a versatile roster.
One of my concerns with the physical style of play was the toll it can take on the bigger players on the Sixers roster over the course of a long season. Brown rejected that notion and said that he does not believe that this break has been a positive for the bigger players on the team.
“I want to get Ben Simmons off the ball more and use him in a variety of ways” Brett Brown on using “maybe the fastest player with the ball in the NBA”. This is a continuation of a very different tone that Brown has struck as the season has evolved. Early on Brown strongly endorsed Simmons as a Point Guard, but this year he has explored other ways to utilize the 6’10” unique talent. He mentioned the pick and roll chemistry with Joel Embiid and Ben as a very interesting development but also said that having guys like Shake Milton emerge could open up options to utilize Simmons in more creative ways in half-court offense. Of specific note was the game against the Clippers just prior to the All-Star Break.