Hiring a new head coach is pretty much the definition of a gamble. The Philadelphia 76ers rolled the dice by hiring Brett Brown, and they are hoping they made the right move.
Former coach Doug Collins had Sixers fans anticipating something special. There was a clear turnaround in his first year with the team. All of a sudden, defense became the team's No. 1 priority, and the results began to pay off. Collins' second year saw Philadelphia pushing the Boston Celtics to a Game 7 in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
It felt like Philadelphia was turning a corner and potentially becoming a top contender.
That was until the 2012-13 season took place.
Collins fell from his position as head coach in only 82 games, and the search for a new one was on.
Choosing Brown for the job took longer than usual. Fortunately, the longtime San Antonio Spurs assistant comes from a winning tradition—and winning consistently is something the Sixers have struggled to do.
With that being said, here’s a look at what Philadelphia needs from Brown in order for the hire to be successful.
The Right Coaching Staff
How strong can a skyscraper be without a solid foundation? How about a car with popped tires? A basketball player with bad knees?
The point is that the base must be sound and intact. In basketball terms, Brown needs to have the right coaches around him in order to have future success.
It's early, but it appears Brown knows all of this. The Sixers released a statement by Brown about the the coaching staff on NBA.com:
This decision takes nothing away from the talent and loyalty of Michael Curry, Aaron McKie and Jeff Capel, but is more about making a fresh start here in Philadelphia. I respect the way this staff did their job and how they handled themselves with tremendous class and professionalism, which needs to be acknowledged. I am grateful for all the work they've done this off-season leading up to this decision.
Brown's quick decision to not retain Philadelphia's former assistants is definitely a positive sign. He isn't wasting any time in pulling the trigger on the move, which possibly indicates he already knows who he wants his assistant coaches to be.
He'll need to bring in coaches who are willing to disagree with Brown and push him to think. Any coach can find people who are going to always say yes, but it's much more difficult to find men who respect the coach enough to disagree.
It's one of the best ways to get everything out of a person—especially a coach.
If Brown can find a group of coaches who complement him but are strong enough to challenge his thinking in certain situations, the Sixers should have the solid foundation they've been looking for.
It is the first step.
This could be where Brown earns his money.
The ability to help players develop at the individual level is sorely missing in today's NBA game, and coaches end up getting let go because of it.
The first step is to take a look at Philadelphia's roster and its key players.
Youth is the name of the game with this team, and the young guys need to receive the most attention. The Sixers can't afford to have Michael Carter-Williams and Nerlens Noel fail.
It would set the franchise back for years.
Brown has a particularly tough task in Carter-Williams. It's relatively easy to work on a point guard's ball-handling or jumper, but it's very difficult to improve somebody's decision-making skills. Carter-Williams is an exceptional passer, and he knows how to get the ball to his teammates. But he doesn't exactly know when to execute his passes. It'll be a sharp learning curve, but he is young enough to turn it around.
Noel is lucky, as he only has to worry about one end of the floor. Sure, the man needs to add about 40 pounds and get his mind right with his knee. But if all goes well, that should come with time. Noel won't need to spend much time developing his defensive game, because it's almost all there. He just needs to work on every aspect of his offense.
Another player to pay particular attention to is Evan Turner. There is no guarantee he'll last past the trade deadline, but maybe Brown has the hidden key to Turner's game. The key to opening another level of play.
We can all dream, right?
Developing a player's game requires both time and talent. Coaches must take time out of their schedules to work with players.
The important thing to remember is that these are professional basketball players. There is only a small difference between someone who is average and good.
A very small difference.
But it is also much harder to see drastic changes in whatever skill is being worked on. The only way to truly make a difference is to spend a ridiculous amount of time improving the skill.
What happens when time isn't enough? That's when a coach's talent comes into play.
Each player is unique in how he plays and how he handles feedback. You can't coach every player the same way. Different guys respond to different styles of coaching.
Finding out who needs positive reinforcement versus who needs to be pushed harder through discipline will be one of Brown's most important tasks.
Growth probably sounds very similar to development. In reality, the two are drastically different.
Development is about transforming an individual. Growth is about transforming a team.
It's no secret that almost everybody thinks the Sixers will be one of the NBA's worst teams this year. A quick look at a Bill Simmons' tweet will instantly tell you what's expected out of Philadelphia.
Being a cellar dweller won't necessarily keep the team from improving during the 2013-14 season, though.
This will be Brown's final step.
He needs to show he is capable of turning Philly into a future contender. The wins won't come right away. There's a good chance we'll tune in to some awful basketball as the season gets started.
But the key is where Brown can take the Sixers from there.
They should be competing on a nightly basis. Not having the talent to win games is no excuse to not play hard. From there, Brown needs to show he's capable of providing an environment for chemistry to build.
Chemistry will be crucial when Philadelphia eventually grows into a good team, so it's important for it to begin now.
Brown hiring great assistant coaches and developing his players should make the "growing" part easy. Everything will be in place at that point.
Philadelphia needs a confident Brett Brown. A guy who knows what he needs to do and how to do it.
There hasn't been any indication of an inability on Brown's part, so we'll have to see how it goes. A successful head coach is the first step to a better future for the Sixers.
We'll see if Brown has what it takes.