When the Brett Brown Era ended, many Sixers fans rejoiced. They believed that the man who shepherded the franchise through The Process, who was sent into a Wild West gunfight armed with a plastic spoon for multiple seasons, was not the person who can take the team to the proverbial Next Level.
They may be right. We’ll never know. Now, for the Sixers' brass, the search is on for that head coach, one that can pull the team across the finish line, to get out of them what Brown seemingly could not.
As they canvas the globe for that candidate, it’s important that the right person for the job has as many of the following criteria as possible, if not all of them.
Unlock the jump shot
This should go without much explanation. For all that they’ve already shown us on the court at the highest level possible, there is still a higher ceiling for Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons.
Everyone who has watched Simmons for more than a few games knows what he needs to do. The big question is how to get him to do it. There’s no telling if it will take hugs, tough love, benching, a full-scale intervention, hypnosis, or a combination of all of those things to get Simmons to incorporate a mid-range game into his offensive arsenal. But, for the two-time All-Star to go from good to great, he needs to take jump shots with regularity. After Simmons made a third-pointer on December 7, Brown said the following:
"This is what I want, and you can pass it along to his agent, his family and friends. I want a three-point shot a game, minimum. The pull-up twos... I'm fine with whatever is open. But I'm interested in the 3-point shot."
Simmons played 36 more games this past season before his knee injury. He took three three-pointers, only one of which wasn’t an end-of-quarter heave.
Unacceptable. The new coach must change this.
Get JoJo to go the distance
As for Embiid, his fitness is what most springs to mind when fans are asked about his shortcomings. For someone who is leaned on so much — both by his teammates and by 250-plus-pound defenders on a nightly basis — Embiid must be able to have the stamina to give his team all he has as often as possible, for as long as possible.
We’re aware of his injury history. But for a man who has called himself “The most unstoppable player In the league,” he needs to prove it. It’s difficult to see someone taller than seven feet, north of 260 pounds, stare at his hand and flex it so often when he is swiped at by an opponent. If it’s truly an injury, sit down. If not, enough with the histrionics. There’s a big difference between being injured and being hurt.
Find the monster in Harris
We see it. In flashes, small doses, maybe even for an entire quarter of basketball. Tobias Harris has the ability to take over an NBA basketball game. The Sixers saw it enough that they backed up the money truck and gave Harris a max deal.
They didn’t get a good return on their investment this past season. Harris scored 30-plus points in a game six times. He had 12 points or fewer nine times. And for a player counted upon to be the solid second scorer (or primary scorer on nights when Embiid isn’t dominating), he played 16 games this past season where he took 12 shots or fewer.
Be in Elton Brand’s ear
Brett Brown, for better or worse, had the GM’s ear when it came to roster construction. The new head coach needs to be even more. The supporting cast needs to support the three biggest stars on the team, or they need to be replaced.
For a team that prided itself on having a “3 and D” mindset, they had virtually no role players on the roster that could do both with alacrity. Furkan Korkmaz can 3, but not D. Mike Scott can D, but not consistently 3.
Secondary scoring options aside, the new head coach needs to lean on Brand to get upgrades at reserve point guard and backup center.
Find out what Horford has left
I mean, aside from three years left on his contract with $97 million guaranteed. Horford took the money and ran from Boston to Philadelphia. What the Sixers got was a shell of a five-time All-Star. He posted a career-low in field goal percentage, and a scoring average (11.9) lower than all of his 13 NBA seasons except the first two.
The new head coach needs to find out what Horford has left in the tank. Can he really help a team with championship aspirations? Can he give quality minutes, whether it be as a starting four, or a backup four/five? If the answer to any of these questions is in doubt, the new head coach’s next call should be to his boss.