Sixers training camp is full of fresh, unfamiliar faces. It consists of a lot of players who have never played together, learning from a coach who has never coached any of them, or anyone in the NBA in a head coaching capacity for that matter.
Brett Brown faces the task of bringing all these new parts together into a somewhat cohesive unit in the face of what is sure to be a struggle of a season. The development of team cohesion begins at training camp, and while it will be a challenge to get this seemingly diverse roster into accord, Brown realizes how important it will be for him to put his players in positions where they feel comfortable.
“Me, most definitely, I need to try help them put them in an environment where they can feel comfortable playing,” he said after Monday’s camp session wrapped up.
“You don’t want to handcuff them. You want their fitness to come out. You want to put them in good looks offensively; you want to give them clear rules defensively. So there’s no mystery; they get it, they understand.”
This attitude is evidenced in Brown’s practices, which are filled with not only team competition, but a lot of individual instruction as well.
“I like asking them questions. What do you do here? What’s this mean? Where do you go on this rotation? I like doing that with them and helping them learn."
Thus far, camp has allowed both sides, players and coach, to learn from each other.
A decent portion of Sixers' camp this season will be spent overseas, where they will be playing two preseason games as part of the NBA's Global Games schedule. They will play Bilbao Basket in Bilbao, Spain on October 6th, and then they will face off against the Oklahoma City Thunder in Manchester, United Kingdom on October 8th.
While such a trip could potentially be viewed as a distraction as it cuts into important training camp development time, Coach Brown views it is an excellent opportunity to bring the team together.
"I think it's good to go to Europe. As you know, I've spent a lot of time overseas, I've traveled a lot and all that. I think that to get this group together and go do something like that with them, I feel like that trumps the disruption of two-a-days," Brown explained.
For a team just getting accustomed to working with each other, some actual in-game experience couldn't hurt.
"I'm excited to take these guys over seas and to get to play a FIBA game and then go to Manchester and play an NBA game."
It will be interesting to see how this Sixers team performs against some high-level competition at this point. At the very least the trip will provide an opportunity for the team and their new coach to grow together.