New 76ers coach Brett Brown has quickly established his preferred style of play.
Philadelphia ranks No. 1 in the NBA in pace and No. 1 in distance travelled per game (as culled from NBA.com’s player-tracking data), and it’s no accident. Brown made his intent clear before the season even began.
“First we had to do a conditioning test and then we had to drop weight,” said Evan Turner, who is down nine pounds and 2½ percent body fat. “He told us what weight he wanted us to be at. He was kind of nice about it, but he wasn’t if you didn’t hit that weight number. That was key.”
“In film the other day, in the fourth quarter you see Mike [Carter-Williams] picking up full court,” said Wroten, who missed Saturday’s game with back spasms. “In the NBA, no one plays full court at all, but for him to be able to do that in the fourth when we only had seven, eight people and he had played a lot of minutes [was key]. It showed the little things.
“Sometimes teams will say to us, ‘Are you guys ever going to stop running?’ And they are serious, but at the end of the day we are going to keep running, keep running and keep running.”
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This is an overlooked benefit of tanking. Because new general manager Sam Hinkie has stocked his roster with young players, none of them have the cache to undermine Hinkie’s demands. If Brown had taken over a veteran team, its players might not be so accepting of a more rigorous regimen, and those complains would filter down to the few younger players.
If all goes well, when Philadelphia has quality veterans in a few years, getting into great shape will have become an organizational standard. Players like Michael Carter-Williams will explain to their younger teammates how much it helped them.
The 76ers aren’t just laying the seeds for their future by trying to secure a high draft pick. They’re also conditioning their players and their culture.