Brett Brown has been the glue keeping the 76ers together during their rebuild process, but that same glue may be wearing off. He is now presented with the best chance he has had to bring a championship to the people of Philadelphia. Elton Brand has made some daring trades in his first season as GM in an effort to move the Process forward. The trade for Jimmy Butler early in the season showed that the time was now for a run at the title. The move for Tobias Harris just prior to the trade deadline solidified this new initiative. Within the span of the next few months, Brett Brown must show Brand and the 76ers Organization that he his the right man to lead this team forward.
Anything less than a Conference Finals appearance would be seen as a catastrophic failure for Philly. It may raise questions in the mind of both Butler and Harris concerning their future with the team. Both players will be unrestricted free agents this summer, and if they believe they have a better chance at competing for a title elsewhere, they could move on. Harris seems the likelier of the two to re-sign with Philadelphia. He has now played for five different teams since being drafted by the Milwaukee Bucks in 2011, and may be looking to settle down. Butler, on the other hand, looks as though he may need some convincing. Either way, an appearance in the Eastern Conference Finals and potentially the NBA Finals would go a long way to enticing both players to stay.
Brett Brown has done a considerably effective job with managing the rotation. It is no easy task to keep so many quality players happy with their place in the team, and yet Brown has been able to get solid production from Butler and Harris. However, the true test will be in the playoffs when the pressure is more heavily weighted on the coach to make time sensitive decisions and win the chess match against the opposition’s head coach. It will be then when Brown will be heavily scrutinized.
During the 2018 playoff push, Brown showcased some questionable decisions. He received criticism for the Sixers not being up to the challenge on defense in Game 1 against the Celtics as well as the way he handled the Celtics coverage of Joel Embiid. ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith has been heavily critical of Brown even this year. Stating just a few days ago that Brett Brown is one of the major weaknesses of the 76ers heading into the playoffs. It is honestly tough to argue with his assessment. The current 76ers team has had a dip in defensive efficiency since making moves during the beginning of the season, which will be exploited by the strong offenses of the top teams in the East.
None of the Sixers’ players have been overtly critical of Brown, but Joel Embiid has expressed frustration with the way he has been utilized in certain games. Otherwise, he has gotten respect from his players as well as other coaches around the league, especially his former boss Gregg Popovich. It is difficult to not admire how Brown developed the younger players during the “Process”. Two players that stand out as benefiting from Brett Brown are Robert Covington, who was traded as part of the Jimmy Butler trade, and T.J. McConnell. Moreover, he made the bold move of committing to the utilization of Ben Simmons as the team’s point guard.
This postseason will be a true test of grit, determination, and quality for the Sixers’ players and Brett Brown. The Eastern Conference heavyweights have only gotten stronger this year besides the struggling Celtics, and even with their many moves this season, it is tough to see the Sixers as favorites. For one thing, Philadelphia still find themselves in 4th place in the conference as they try to hunt down the Indiana Pacers. Regardless of their final position in the standings, Brett Brown will be under intense pressure come playoff time. The Process has moved into its final stages and Brett Brown must show that he can lead this team forward. If he is unable to do so, then the Sixers may be faced with losing some of their players to free agency as well as needing to look for a new head coach.