Philadelphia 76ers: Is it time to move on from Brett Brown?

NBA Philadelphia 76ers Brett Brown (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
NBA Philadelphia 76ers Brett Brown (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

In the midst of a four-game losing streak, the Philadelphia 76ers look nothing like a contender. Is it time to move on from Brett Brown?

The Philadelphia 76ers were expected to be one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference. With a little more than a month before the All-Star break, they are shockingly the sixth-best team in the East, with a record of 23-14. There are several factors that have contributed to the team’s dismal performance as of late.

Ben Simmons is putting up All-Star caliber numbers, averaging 14.9 points per game, to go along with 7.3 rebounds and 8.6 assists a night. Against the Houston Rockets on Friday night he amassed a triple-double with 29 points, 13 rebounds, and 11 assists to go along with four blocks. That’s a pretty impressive game. The problem is he’s too predictable down the stretch.

In a halfcourt set, opponents play off of the All-Star to prevent him from attacking the rim. In transition, the 6-foot-10 point guard kicks the ball out to teammates at the top of the key instead of taking an easy pull-up jump shot. It’s evident that Ben Simmons needs to shoot the ball more, particularly from 3-point range.

Coach Brett Brown has publicly called for him to do so.

Ironically, Simmons has attempted one 3-pointer in 12 games since his coach made the request. It’s nearly impossible for a team to win with any consistency when the star player doesn’t buy into the coach’s system.

Simmons’ offensive defiance is affecting Joel Embiid’s game as well. The center expressed his frustration with the lack of spacing that comes with having a ball-handler, as dominant as Simmons, who refuses to shoot the ball.

"“If you’ve got to space and shoot it, you’ve got to do it,” shared Embiid with reporters on Thursday (via SI). “We need everybody to buy into that and we’ll be fine.”"

We can’t act as though an inability to reach Ben Simmons is the only flaw in the coaching tactics of Brett Brown. Al Horford isn’t quite the player that he once was. That has been evident in his struggle to defend the pick-and-roll, as the 76ers have dropped seven of their last 10 games. In that 10-game stretch, Horford is averaging just 8.7 points per game and 5.9 rebounds a night in 30 minutes of action.

Perhaps he would be more efficient in a limited role. Seldom used Kyle O’Quinn could help pick up the defensive slack while Horford catches a breather. It’s not a long-term solution, but it’s much better than witnessing Al Horford become a liability on both ends of the floor because he’s being overworked.

No one is saying that Brett Brown isn’t a talented coach. He certainly knows the game, and he’s proven himself as an assistant with the Spurs and as the head coach of the Australian men’s national team. But since joining the 76ers in 2013, there hasn’t been a sense that the players are fully on board with his strategy.

The 76ers need a coach that can mold a team with such high expectations. This squad needs someone who is willing to sit a player that isn’t living up to clearly defined expectations. After every loss on the 76ers recent skid, players are admitting that they weren’t there mentally.

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Whether it be a baffling loss in Orlando or being scorched by James Harden for a 44-point triple-double, the 76ers often look deflated on the court. This team needs a coach that can change that for the group. If Brett Brown isn’t that guy, it may be time for Philadelphia to find someone who is capable of handling that task.