Brown Sees System Creating Chemistry
Amidst all the newness surrounding the 76ers, the team has played a pair of relatively smooth games offensively since last week’s trade deadline turned over nearly a third of the roster.
The bolstered starting unit of Ben Simmons, JJ Redick, Jimmy Butler, Joel Embiid, and Tobias Harris has performed particularly well, outscoring two good opponents - the Denver Nuggets and Los Angeles Lakers - by a combined 17 points in 30 minutes shared together.
For all the chemistry questions that surfaced in the immediate aftermath of the Sixers acquiring Harris, the top group appears to be adapting quickly, just like it did in November on the heels of the Jimmy Butler deal.
Both Harris and Butler, Brett Brown says, are “incredibly unique” in that they’re more than capable scorers, but also respect for the sport enough to play it the right way, and buy into a system.
“Normally you get shot hunters,” Brown said, “and [Harris and Butler] are not doing that.
“They take what the game gives them. There is a good ecosystem, there is a good vibe. They are sharing the ball.”
Passing, of course, is perhaps the premium of Brown’s offensive scheme. It rules the day, every day.
As talented as the Sixers’ first-stringers are individually, they seem to collectively understand this concept.
“I think that’s kind of how we want to play,” said Harris, before quickly correcting himself. “I mean, that is how we want to play.”
In Sunday’s victory over the Lakers, the Sixers handed out 33 helpers. Two days earlier, in Harris’ debut, they had 29.
The newcomer has found the movement to be contagious.
“Just that type of momentum and that type of spirit of the ball, moving side-to-side, that’s fun to be a part of and fun to play with,” Harris said. “If we can envision it the way we want, it would be to be able to play that type of way and still have guys create their own shot, make their own plays, and play their game. That’s kind of how we would like to envision it.”
Among the starters, the selflessness has been pervasive, and productive. While two games a success story does not make, the style of play to which Brown has long been married is once again proving its prevailing power.
“The end game, the dot connector, is the pass. The pass is king, and that’s what I’ve said since we all met,” said Brown, referring to the point of emphasis he’s preached dating back to his first season, in 2013-14.
Examining recent history, the Sixers finished third in the NBA in assist percentage two years ago, and second to Golden State last season. Brown’s club again ranks second to the Warriors in assist percentage this year (66.0%).
“That’s a cultural part of the program that I am proud of, and is not negotiable. The pass is king, and that is not pulling teeth with this locker room. That is their instinct.”
And so, two games into a new era, it has also been the team’s way.