SHENZHEN, China. — Brett Brown is excited to coach this group of 76ers players.
"But I think in general, it's going to take a little bit of time to get into a rhythm, as it should," the coach said Monday after the Sixers' final preseason game.
Translation: The Sixers won't open the season on the same level as the cohesive group that concluded the last regular reason with an NBA-record 16 straight victories. In all, that Sixers squad won 20 of its final 23 games after acquiring Ersan Ilyasova in free agency.
Well, he's gone. So is Marco Belinelli, last season's other top late-season free-agent acquisition who gave them a boost.
In step Wilson Chandler and Mike Muscala, offseason acquisitions expected to lead the Sixers in vital reserve roles.
Chandler comes in with big expectations by his teammates and coaches. However, the small forward has been sidelined since straining his left hamstring in the Sept. 28 preseason opener against Melbourne United. The Sixers are also tinkering with a starting backcourt of Ben Simmons and Markelle Fultz.
"It's going to take a third of a year," Brown said of getting things figured out. "A lot of new faces, and soon Wilson is going come back into it."
The coach breaks his seasons into thirds. His first third is from the start of the season until Christmas. The second third is from Christmas to the NBA All-Star break. The final third is from the All-Star break until the end of the regular season.
"We'll try to get us organized as best as we can try and find a rhythm," Brown said. "I think that this first third, that is the challenge, Then you start consolidating and you try to walk a season down.
"But it is going to take that type of time and patience, I believe."
Chandler did not accompany the Sixers on their weeklong trip to China for the NBA China Games against the Dallas Mavericks The Sixers defeated the Mavs, 120-114, in Shanghai on Friday and lost to Dallas, 115-112, in Shenzhen on Monday.
Chandler received treatment and worked out with Sixers shooting coach John Townsend at the team's practice facility in Camden.
The Sixers had to make adjustments to their projected rotation because of the absence of Chandler and Jerryd Bayless (sprained left knee).
Brown admitted that Chandler's absence hurt the preparation for the season "a little bit."