In his former life, and increasingly so in his current one, Brett Brown has had plenty of experience with stars.
During his 12-year stint as an assistant in San Antonio, which was highlighted by four championship runs, Brown had the opportunity to work with elite pros – David Robinson, Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, and a young Kawhi Leonard.
That’s a collection of All-Stars, MVPs, future Hall of Famers, and one guy who’s already been enshrined.
With the 76ers, Brown and his staff have been entrusted with helping budding talents Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons evolve into transcendent game-changers.
So far, the results have been pretty darn good.
Now, a month into the season, Brown will be presented with a new star-related wrinkle. Integrating Jimmy Butler into the fold.
The Sixers acquired the four-time All-Star Monday in a blockbuster trade.
When taking stock of what Butler will bring to the table, Brown first turned his eyes to the defensive side of the court. He believes Butler’s physicality and defensive tenacity is completely on brand with the Sixers’ style of play, one designed to “mirror” a gritty, hard-nosed Philadelphian spirit.
“He is a fierce competitor, and there is a toughness that he plays with, that’s who he is,” Brown said Monday in Miami, a few hours after the Butler deal was made official. “He wears it on his face, it’s seen in his game. It’s confirmed by multiple All-Defensive Teams. It’s a perfect fit for the city and our program, defensively.”
Jump over to the offensive side of the ball, and the match appears ideal there, too.
With Embiid, the Sixers already have arguably the preeminent scoring big man in the NBA, a 7-footer who can bully on the block, bruise through the lane, and shoot from all over the floor with an uncanny natural touch.
In Simmons, the club boasts one of the game’s prodigious facilitators, young or old, as well.
What the Sixers gain in Butler, though, is a lethal scorer capable of producing buckets at will, either out of the backcourt, or on the wing. He gets to the free throw line with a high degree of regularity, and also hits threes.
“We’ve run the least pick-and-rolls and the least isolations of any team in the NBA for a reason,” Brown said. “We don’t believe it [was] our strength.
“We pass, we move, and we post Joel. That has a lifespan when it gets to crunch time.”
Enter Jimmy Buckets.
“He offers us the ability to find an All-Star and pick ‘em – pick-and-roll, isolation – implemented in the movement structure that we have.”
A welcomed weapon that Brown seems to think will only stand to move the Sixers closer to their ultimate goal of a championship.
“I see it as a fit, a really, really great fit. We’re thrilled to have him.”