Philadelphia 76ers: New management, new atmosphere

For a team that wasn’t supposed to compete this year, the Philadelphia 76ers (6-9) have shown the importance of quality coaching in an NBA environment.  There is no doubt with Philadelphia fans, Brett Brown is a far better coach than Doug Collins was last season. Whether it’s his obsession with fitness or shot selection, Brown has shown obvious improvement with the young squad.

Through 15 games the Sixers have taken just 162 perimeter jumpers this season, which equals just 12.18% of their shots. With Collins, the perimeter jumper represented roughly 23% of their shots. At their current pace, it will take the Sixers almost two full seasons (145 games) to match the 1,575 perimeter jump shots they took last season– a staggering stat, and a number that speaks to the job Brown has done.

Michael Carter-Williams, who came into the NBA with his jump shot being a major question mark, has attempted just 20 midrange jump shots in 11 games. By comparison, he has 77 shots at the basket.

One of the biggest beneficiaries of Brown’s insistence on his players not taking the mid-range jumper has been Evan Turner. Turner is driving to the rim an average of 7.1 times per game this season, and his 114 points scored on those drives is more than any other player in the league.

Evan Turner has been spending more time at the basket this season, and the results have been impressive ( Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports)

Evan Turner has been spending more time at the basket this season, and the results have been impressive ( Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports)

A year ago, Turner shot just 2.5 free throws per game. This year, he’s taking 5.7 per game and making a career-best 83.5 percent. And he’s shooting 59.8 percent at the rim this season compared to just 46 percent last season. This alone shows the impact Brown has had individually with this team.

Also, since Brown was introduced as head coach in late summer, he has spoken daily of body fat diet, hydration and overall fitness. His players (non-glowingly) talk about his desire to have them running as much as possible. It is an advantage, no matter the team’s talent level or lack thereof; he believes is a necessity for this young team he has inherited. He even pulled out a piece of paper after practice yesterday to prove how well his plan is working so far. Lavoy Allen, James Anderson, and Evan Turner have lost 34 pounds collectively.

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Brown’s formula is currently being put to the test. He firmly believes the better the fitness the quicker players can return from the nagging injuries that accompany any season. Spencer Hawes (knee) and Tony Wroten (back) are two players who are currently hoping to benefit from the fitness routine as they try to get back in the lineup when the teams plays in Orlando tomorrow.

With Brown as head coach one thing seems clear, the Sixers are going to play above their talent level. Something great overall, but doesn’t have fans excited for this season.

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