With the first half of the 2013-14 season thankfully behind the 76ers (54 games to be precise), and the NBA all-star break officially over, let’s take a minute to consider if Brett Brown ever questions what he has gotten himself into.
From the improbable 3-0 start to the season that saw the 76ers jump from last to first in numerous online power rankings, to the historically deplorable defense that has been played, to the career offensive stats put up by Thad, Turner and Hawes, to terribly poor 3-point shooting (31% – 29th in the NBA), Brown’s first season with the Sixers has been anything but normal.
Brown left a stable (understatement) job in San Antonio, and the Spurs are soldiering on this season, to take the head coaching job with the Sixers, who have been anything but stable this season. Brown knew the rebuilding process for the 76ers was going to be difficult, as he headed into the regular reason with a roster self-described as boasting only six NBA players. Still, he has already acknowledged that it has been more arduous than he initially imagined.
“I said from Day 1 when I got the job that the rebuild, the pain of losing is real. It doesn’t just sound good in August. Now I’m living it. When you’re down 20 and you’re on the sidelines, and I’ve been spoiled because I’ve been a part of 50-win seasons every one of my years, four NBA championships [with San Antonio] . . . This, at times, is hard.”
And you have to wonder if even that was an understatement.
Almost every night the team surrenders franchise, season or career highs to an individual foe or opposing team. The 76ers overall poor defensive effort (110.4 ppg. allowed – 30th in NBA) reminds us of the Washington Generals who also allowed made threes at an astonishing rate (9.4 per game – 30th in NBA). The list of on the court ills for the 2013-14 Sixers is long and has been discussed on this site at length.
Off the court, trade rumors have swirled all season, something somewhat unfamiliar in San Antonio, a franchise that has maintained the same core of players for a decade. Players on the 7-6 have been “hurt”, others unable to get into shape. The team is currently riding out an eight game losing streak that includes historic back-to-back losses by 40+ points. Brown has had his hands full; likely fuller than he forecasted.
They’ve been bad, but the season has been anything but boring. The play of Carter-Williams has been a highlight, and while he struggles at times with his shooting stroke (36% on FGAs & 27% on 3PAs in last 10 games) and his advanced stats leave something to be desired, he’s likely to become to first 76er to earn the NBA Rookie of the Year award since Allen Iverson. I wonder if Brown thought he had a runaway ROY candidate heading into the season?
Just some things to think about heading into the second half, and wondering what the rest of the season has in store. The lineup is likely to receive a serious shakeup soon, which will have strong implications for the future.
This second half of the season serves as the build-up to the biggest draft the franchise has faced in quite some time. It will be extremely interesting to see how it shakes out, who will remain on the roster, and where exactly the Sixers will land in the lottery (They currently project to draft second, behind MIL). There’s certainly a lot to keep an eye on.
It will also be worth noting how Brown handles the team as the losses mount. He hasn’t lost them yet, but if one of the vets is traded away, things could get even uglier, and it will be important for Brown to manage the team, especially for the sake of those that will be with the franchise in the future.
Michael Kaskey-Blomain is a scribe for Philadunkia.
You can follow him on Twitter @therealmikekb.
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