Sixers talk about changes to the team this season
At just 25 years old, Evan Turner is one of the "oldest" players on the Sixers' roster. (USA Today Images)
There isn’t a lot being written or spoken about the Sixers and their prospects for the upcoming NBA season. But what little chatter there is about the team isn’t great.
By all accounts the Sixers are going to have a difficult season in the standings. That’s not a big surprise. The rebuilding process is something embraced by the entire organization from top to bottom and has not wavered.
But don’t call it a “tank.” The Sixers don’t like that. Sure, they might lose a lot of games, but they aren’t tanking the season just to have a good draft pick — at least not that they’ll admit.
“We just have to focus on the team,” sixth-man Tony Wroten said. “Outsiders are going to say whatever they’re going to say like we’re a tank team and just trying to get Andrew Wiggins, but we’re trying to win. It’s like Coach (Brett Brown) says, he doesn’t know about a tank season and he’s coming from San Antonio and all he knows is winning. So I’m going to listen to whatever he says even if it’s something I don’t want to hear because he knows all about winning.”
The plan for the Sixers this season is to circle the wagons and put all the negativity aside. In fact, even if the Sixers were a contending for a championship, Brown says the plan would be the same …
Just don’t listen — or read — any of it.
“I would say this no matter what stage we’re in — I hope we don’t listen to anybody. I think it’s such a mistake that we can make when you get caught up in what other people think,” Brown said. “I know that sounds like an overboard philosophy, but I don’t want our young guys caring what any outside people think, and I mean that. We stay together and get focused on what we have to do and don’t get carried away the rebuild or this or that. We have to stay in-house and keep it amongst the team and know what we have to do to make ourselves better. I have to be the leader of that.”
But even Brown hasn’t been faced with a season the pundits are forecasting for the Sixers. Coming from the San Antonio Spurs where he was an assistant under Gregg Popovich and won four NBA titles, losing seasons were a rumor to Brown. A rebuilding process with a chance at the No. 1 overall pick in the draft was something else altogether.
Mix in a roster in which no active player is over the age of 25 and there is sure to be a lot of inexperience and growing pains. Losing is a foreign concept for most basketball players until they get to the NBA.
Evan Turner, one of the 25-year-old veterans and leaders on the team, is right in line with Brown’s sentiment. He’s not listening to what anyone says about the team.
“I don’t pay attention to any of it,” Turner said. “Any time you’re doing something, outside influences are never good. I don’t worry about it.”
As for his rotations and which players stand to get time on the court in the opener against the Heat on Wednesday night, Brown doesn’t expect to shorten things up. There will be plenty of playing time for many of the guys on the roster.
“I think it’s going to end up being 11. I expect to play a lot of players,” Brown said about his rotation. “To play the way we want to play and to maintain some energy and do it for 82 games, I’m happy to go 10 or 11 deep. I’d be surprised if you don’t see me do that for the large majority of the year.
“I think with our guys there isn’t so much separation or delineation between players seven through 11 where it’s that clear cut. So I’m going to play some of these young players and keep some energy on the floor.”
Brown says he’s more excited than nervous about his first game as an NBA coach on Wednesday. But as far as being ready for the season, what team is ever ready, he asked.
“No, I don’t [feel ready for the season],” Brown said. “I feel it’s reality with multiple people coming in late and just being introduced to the system. You never feel as ready as you can be.”
Ready or not, here it comes. The Sixers will be thrown into the fire quickly Wednesday as they kick off a stretch of three games in four days against the Heat, Bulls and Warriors.