Four Point Line. Quiet Tournament. Paint to Great. Batman. The terminology of the 76ers head coach Brett Brown is ever evolving. Well, you can officially add another Brett Brownism to the lexicon: The “Death Float.” 

“Let’s just talk about the first phase of offense when Ben Simmons flies down the court. And he attracts five people. There’s Joel trailing into it in rhythm and flow. He doesn’t think, and he shoots that shot. That’s a good shot from him, for him,” said Brett Brown when asked about Joel taking three pointers. Debate over how to best utilize Joel Embiid has been a consistent theme this season. Dating back to the 7th year head coach’s media luncheon in September, the premise of the 76ers was “Smash Mouth and Bully Ball.” But as the Sixers return from the All Star break, the team has to decide what its core set of offensive principles will be.

Brown seemingly is fine with the outside-inside game, or the inside-outside game. But what he says the team needs to eliminate is getting stuck in the uncanny valley. 

Rolling Stone

“I call it the death float, you know, somewhere in the middle of a possession where I want Joel rolling,” said Brown Thursday. In general, a team that plays downhill will stress a defense in ways that create wide open looks on the perimeter. “At times… he may feel like [he’s] rolling into a lot of traffic,” said Brown, referring to heartburn that Embiid might feel about barreling into a lane already clogged by teams scheming to take away inside touches. “And that could be true, but I want him in this final third [of the season] to just knock people over.”

Kenny Atkinson, the Brooklyn Nets’ head coach, was asked prior to the game Thursday about what he expected in a game where Ben Simmons would not play due to back tightness. “I expect a lot more post touches,” said Atkinson. In Joel Embiid’s first shift Thursday, he did not dissapoint. Embiid scored 11 points on 4-5 shooting along with 4 rebounds and a block in his first 5:50.

“You’re rolling, that’s you’re part of the world, in half court offense”

Team Spacing 

Brown pivoted from his assessment of interior pressure to the other end of the equation. “So the pick-and-pop [during] times he’s going to see his man’s all the way back. The throw back, [if] he’s got his rhythm, I don’t mind those types of shots,” continued Brown about Embiid taking shots that help space the floor when a team sags into the paint. “I feel like it’s just, like, very archaic thinking to think just because he’s seven-foot-two, he can only go inside. I don’t believe that’s wise.”

The key to spacing the floor comes down to positioning players in the “High Quadrants.” This refers to having available shooting outlets in the corners and on the wings above the break. These locations create stress on a defense that makes it hard to deny the middle penetration that is so fundamental to getting high percentage shots at the rim that create good chance for drawing fouls. Each player, according to Brown, needs to either be attacking down low or making themselves available to get into those quadrants. 

“If you’re just kind of like hovering and moving and crashing into people, and I’m saying that for anybody, we joke around like it’s kind of that death float,” said Brown. If you look at the shot chart above, any area that you don’t see shot distribution is generally a place where the offense does not want to occupy. Therefore, if a player is in one of those areas, they should be moving, with purpose, to one of the High Quadrant locations.

Death Float

Speaking again about the death float, Brown continued, “That usually doesn’t produce anything, in my eyes, good. It certainly doesn’t create the space that we need to post and drive and point-five and good to great, it’s congested. And so, that death float is in those areas as I just explained it, and it’s poisonous. Especially in that middle third of a possession when you look at the clock and you look at about 16 down to eight.”

So there you have it, Brown wants the players aggressively rolling downhill or running hard around off-ball screens. That’s the Death Float, the latest entry into the Brett Brown dictionary.

See Brown’s full comments about the death float on the TPL YouTube channel.