Inside the Sixers: Brett Brown's enthusiasm, relentlessness flow through 76ers

Posted: November 18, 2013

NEW ORLEANS - Often, a good basketball team will draw off the personality of its coach.

That's a good sign for the 76ers, who aren't expected to become a contending team for a couple of seasons.

So far this young season, Brett Brown's persona has enabled the Sixers to provide some early-season excitement that was totally unexpected during what many still expect to be a dismal season.

The Sixers (5-6) have lost six of their last eight games after Saturday's setback to the Pelicans here at New Orleans Arena. Some might argue their record should be worse.

They beat a Miami Heat team that rested all-star Dwyane Wade and a Houston Rockets squad that played without all-star James Harden.

But the Sixers are not constructed to beat any elite teams with or without their superstars. The belief was the franchise was content with starting its rebuilding process by sacrificing wins this season. That still might be true.

Yet the Sixers' relentless coach has turned a team loaded with NBA fringe players into a squad that draws from his personality. Anyone who has watched them play knows the players are a fiery and relentless group. Just like Brown is a fun-loving guy, his team is fun to watch.

They headed into Saturday's game tied with the Golden State Warriors for the sixth-highest points-per-game average in the NBA at 106.2.

Evan Turner was ranked eighth in the league in scoring (23.4 points). Spencer Hawes (15.8 points and 10.7 rebounds) was averaging a double-double. And before bruising the arch on his left foot, point guard Michael Carter-Williams (17.4 points, 7.6 assists, 2.6 steals) was the most talked-about rookie in the league.

His replacement, Tony Wroten, made NBA history by recording a triple-double in his first career start Wednesday, against Houston. Wroten (12.6 points) and Thaddeus Young (15.8) were the Sixers' other double-figure scorers.

"For his team to be playing as hard as they are, with the pace that they are playing, the execution, the unselfishness, just so many things that he values, you know you just see it in his team," said Atlanta Hawks rookie coach Mike Budenholzer, who like Brown was a longtime San Antonio assistant. "I'm happy for his success. I follow him closely."

Just don't tell Brown that he's the primary reason for the unexpected excitement. The energetic coach believes the entire coaching staff, which is filled with type-A personalities, deserves credit.

"We have a very competitive staff," Brown said. "We talk a certain way. We practice a certain way. We act a certain way."

The Sixers will tell you accountability is huge to them. The coaching staff, especially Brown, demands that the players always go through the process. They won't tolerant skipping steps.

"There's a right way to do [stuff] in just about everything," Brown said. "And really they know it, too. And it's just trying to bring quality effort to whatever we are doing . . . on and off the court."

Other than that, Brown gives his players freedom on the court, with one unwavering rule: They must stay aggressive at all times.

That constant aggressiveness has enabled the Sixers to come back from double-digit deficits in their five victories.

"He's a winner," Wroten said. "I listen to everything he says. Sometimes even if I don't want to hear it or don't want to agree with it, I'm going to listen to it. Obviously, he knows what he's talking about and what it takes to win.

"So at the end of the day, he's a coach that you would run through a wall for."


kpompey@phillynews.com

@PompeyOnSixers

inquirer.com/deepsixer

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