The first week of Training Camp 2014 for Philadunkia’s home team wrapped up this weekend and the 76ers then traveled to Boston for tonight’s for preseason opener with the Celtics. However, since Brett Brown views “all of October” as the training camp period, we are going to continue to discuss a number of topics that deserved to be examined as the team draws closer to the tip off of the “double tank” season.
Today we present the sixth installment in our series here at Philadunkia that will ask and analyze key questions Sam Hinkie, Brett Brown and the Sixers will be facing as the 2014-15 regular season opener approaches. Each day a question will be posed to three Philadunkia scribes — Jeff McMenamin, Michael Kaskey-Blomain and C. Smith — and their insightful answers (hopefully) will be posted for you the reader to view and comment on.
Today’s training camp question is…“At training camp, will Brett Brown and his staff make an honest effort to teach this group legitimate team defense?”
Michael Kaskey-Blomain: Yes, Brett Brown and the staff will make a legitimate effort to preach and teach defense. Brett has emphasized the importance of the team developing a ‘defensive identity’ over the course of this season, and now with some pieces to the puzzle who have a future with the franchise in tow, he will begin to instill some defensive philosophies. With the schemes that he gets into may be basic, as the team is still comprised of young, inexperienced players, I do believe that the defense will be improved upon this year. I believe that they will develop a strategy to help reduce the amount of three’s made by opponents this season. The addition of Nerlens Noel in the middle should provide the team with a paint protector, and that should help to allow others to stay on their own assignments to a greater extent. K.J. McDaniels is also defensively-minded, and the addition of him on the perimeter should help improve the team on the defensive end as well.
Carter-Williams also showed some signs defensively last season, and with his length he certainly has the build to be a disruption defensively. So while the team is far from being dominant defensively, I do believe that Brett and co. will begin to instill defensive practices and principles this season.
C. Smith: The 76ers were feakin’ awful on defense last season, so I hope Brett Brown makes an tremendous effort to improve the defensive performance of this team. But to be honest, I don’t see that actually happening. Brown is known as an offensive skill development guy and it was obvious last year that the 7-6 spent very little time working on individual and/or team defense (Evan Turner and Lavoy Allen’s early quotes from Indianapolis support this idea heavily.). The front office brass did not add a defensive guru to this coaching staff during the off-season, so I don’t see that end of the court suddenly getting a lot of attention from Brown & Co. Since the Sixers want to lose as many games as possible this year I am sure Sam Hinkie is just fine with that theory, as playing Swiss cheese defense is the easiest way to go about achieving the “double tank”.
All of that being said, I do think the Sixers will be slightly better on defense in 2014-15. The addition of Nerlens Noel will improve their defense a fair amount. Noel is a giant improvement over Spencer Hawes in rim protection, at helping from the weak side and defending the ball. Additionally, KJ McDaniels can flat out lock people down (ACC Defensive POY) and mentioned last week in TC that, “My dad always told me defense wins games.”, so you know that kid is going to bring it every night on defense. Lastly, I have to assume that MCW learned a few things last year and will be an improved on-ball defender in 2014-15. I mean he couldn’t have been much worse than he was last year, so there is nowhere to go but up. So miraculously, and with little help from the coaching staff, I would bet the Sixers are actually a little better on defense in 2014-15.
Jeff McMenamin: Defense will certainly be one of the top priorities for Brett Brown and crew at Sixers training camp. For a team which surrendered a league-worst 109.9 points per game, this issue must be addressed immediately for the team to play any kind of competitive games this season.
The additions of Nerlens Noel and K.J. McDaniels will be a huge help on the defensive end, but defense must start on the wings with Michael Carter-Williams and (likely) Hollis Thompson up top. Sixers opponents shot 47.1-percent from the field last season, third worst in the league.
C. Smith is the Editor of Philadunkia. You can follow us @philadunkia.
Jeff McMenamin is a scribe for Philadunkia. You can follow him on Twitter @Sixersblog.
Michael Kaskey-Blomain is a scribe for Philadunkia. You can follow him on Twitter @therealmikeKB.