PHILADELPHIA 76ERS HEAD COACH BRETT BROWN PRESS CONFERENCE AFTER FULTZ DRAFT

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Brett Brown feels he is almost there with this roster. Photo by Tasty Poutine

On Markelle Fultz and Ben Simmons guard positions…

The thing you realize when you study Markelle’s game is that he, too, has the ability to be a significant ball carrier, and the more that we see Ben play — we’ve had a fantastic month of June — we’re excited to use him as the primary ball carrier. And with Markelle, when you study what he did in college, you recognize very quickly that he has the ability to play that position and be one of the main ball distributors as well. And when I look at the combination of both Ben and Markelle, it’s a really exciting challenge to have where you try to grow those two players and let them coexist and learn more about each other. The start of the season and training camp and the month of September are really going to be important for us to allow those guys to feel each other and the coaching staff to be able to truly see it on the court.

On Fultz being an ideal fit…

As the Draft got closer, we were all on the same type of path where you get the third pick and you think you know who you’re going to draft, and then you hear the Lakers are going to take one of the people that we’re looking at, and then you’re studying different situations and you travel all over the country and bring some people in here to study, and then late, the Celtics trade happened. And so the evolution for me, as you were studying the players, the study of Markelle Fultz, really wasn’t at a serious phase until very late. And when it got discussed and you realize there’s a significant chance we may end up with the first player, let’s sort of pivot out of it and study Markelle’s game a lot more. The thing that I realized is that there was no other player that I saw that was a better fit for [Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons] than Markelle for a variety of reasons. When you look at his ability to shoot, when you look at his ability to create on a catch-go or off a live ball certainly in the early offense that he can coexist with Ben and Joel the easiest out of all of the people. When you thought, there was a chance we could get Lonzo Ball, you study him and you realize, ‘Wow, that is a point guard.’ We would have found a way to make that work, but I feel that with Markelle, and with his sort of variety of ball skills and positional skills, that you feel it a lot clearer that the fit can be a little bit more seamless. He’s a perfect complement to Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons.

On the current roster…

The first two things that come to my mind in this order is that those young guys need nurturing and they need veteran leadership, and to think that you’re going to go into a season with a 19-year-old, a 20-year-old and Joel Embiid, as much as we love him and see how special he is, the reality is those three players have played a cumulative 31 NBA games. And there is going to be a level of patience from the coaching staff, from the city, from teammates that clearly we’re all going to have to go to. And holding a locker room, growing those guys, helping them navigate NBA life and NBA games is a very powerful message when it comes from a player. And trying to identify veterans that have the ability to nurture and help those three, especially, is one of the main priorities. We will never go away from the need for shooters. When you look at Ben and you look at Joel and you look at Markelle — when you say, ‘What’s the common denominator that on the court can help them succeed best?’ It’s space. It’s clear, it’s space. And with that comment, if you can have a hybrid of both worlds, you look at veteran shooters, people that can come in and provide that type of leadership. And Bryan [Colangelo] and I have had hours of discussion leading up to this on what the next step is in regards to the formation of the team and free agents. I know he has shared with you the owners’ plan and, hence, our path that there is still a large part of this growth that will happen organically, not force fed. And so somewhere out there without being reckless and the formation of some of those qualities that we’re looking for to make up the rest of the team, that will be the next step.

On if Markelle Fultz displays the level of toughness that he is looking for in a point guard…

When you listen to the marketplace and all the pundits say these are his strengths, these are his weaknesses, one of the weaknesses is: did he bring it every night defensively? Did he have that killer instinct? The thing that impressed me as much as anything when we had him here, and just speaking to his mom, and speaking to a coach that had been with him almost all of his life, and when you dig into other coaches that coached against him, and most importantly when you sit down and talk to Markelle, for me I learn the most when I can sit down in a room all by myself with the player and just talk. The conversation goes where the conversation goes. You take that experience, you weigh it up with all the intel that we now have available to us and it points back to a high-character person. If you take a high-character person and you take an athlete, you have the foundation to coach him to be an elite defender. Deep down he understands the knock against him. I believe that when we get him with our program, and he understands how we see the world here, that it’s going to be an evolution, no doubt. It’s a willing defensive player and it’s a willing athlete, a gifted athlete under a roof of a quality person. Those qualities let you have a far better chance to mold him into the defensive player we need here.

On the current players welcoming Markelle Fultz before he was even drafted…

I love it. How many times would you see in an NBA city, in an NBA program, where a draft pick comes in at 7 p.m. at night, he’s a little bit late, and on the sideline, by their own choice you see Robert Covington, Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. If everybody here could have seen the month of June, seeing our players, some of you came in and saw the workouts — this gym was alive. It’s the first time we’ve tapped into this building over the summer. I feel that if you look at our guys and you look at the response that they have given to Markelle, it’s incredibly impressive and reflective of some youthful enthusiasm and truly how excited they are to include him into our team.

On his thoughts about taking this team to the next level…

If you go back to when we all met in my first year and you look at where we were and where we are, if we all take a deep breath and look at how we got to five to three to one, the story and the pieces behind that evolution tell a little bit of the story from the question that you just asked me. We are now at a place where you can actually touch people and positionally feel that we’re balanced in the people that we’re touching and how we hope to build the program. It gives you far greater clarity of what those pieces need around them to let them have the best chance of playing excellent basketball. When I sit in a room with Bryan Colangelo and we look at a depth chart, and you’re looking at a board, so much of our conversation goes around, as we build this team, who do we least want to affect? Because if you bring in the wrong position or the wrong type of player, you can affect people like Timmy [Luwawu-Cabbarot], who is still a part of this growth mix. So where we were and where we are and the pieces, the real people that you can actually touch, and especially the three people that we’re talking mostly about now in Embiid, Simmons and Markelle Fultz, the city has to feel fantastic. I know the organization does.

On the first time the trade with Boston was in talks…

There is so much surface talk that has been had always. This is my 17th NBA Draft. You learn through all of those things that you have to sort of determine what’s noise, what’s calculated messaging trying to disrupt the marketplace and what’s real. Because of this, in my mind, and I suppose in most people’s mind, was what we would maybe put into blockbuster verbiage that you were cautious. You really weren’t sure what bucket that could’ve fallen into reality, or just verbiage or noise. As it started to play out, you realize it did have some legs. So always, you play the game, ‘Why would the Celtics do this? What would be in it for us?’ You start dreaming a little but about where people would fit in. I think really only in the last probably 48 hours. We were on a plane working out Josh Jackson. We learned at the last moment that he would see us. Five or six of us got on a plane and flew to Sacramento to study him more. We were very interested in him and that was late. This news with the Celtics did come late, there were conversations that led up to it. When it finally became a reality, I applaud Bryan in the execution of it to get it over the line.

On conversations with Sam Hinkie since the draft lottery…

Just a random text, basically saying, ‘Thank you.’ Organizationally, we really haven’t missed a beat. The volume of phone calls that I have been on in my four years, they’re like every Monday almost you’re on a conference call with the owners and the people involved. We tried to be so meticulously responsible for growing this patiently. Sam was excellent at what he did and Bryan took that work and brought it forward. You can’t help but go back and recognize how we arrived at the picks we got this year. Like I say, you have to step back and really acknowledge the great work that Bryan did to get it over the line. The draft picks that Bryan has made with Luwawu and [Furkan] Korkmaz. Korkmaz was in here for eight days, we’re really excited about him. You can’t dismiss that the club and Sam put us in to get us to this level.

On being closer to a complete team…

I feel a little bit closer. I’m still of the mindset, you probably know I would say this, the adamant and the importance that I place on building a culture still is ever present. We’re a lot closer because you can touch people and you can look at people. For that reason, I arrived tonight thinking that we’re a lot further along than we have ever been, clearly. The reality of the youth is always from a head coaching perspective and your backcourt youth is real. You’re going to have to be patient and learn how to get through some stuff there. The excitement that the city should feel and the acknowledgment that I completely make in regards to our team has pieces now that are young and we have variety and versatility. We are way further along. It doesn’t diminish when you say now it’s just basketball. For me, it’s still the underbelly that sets programs apart. There’s a cultural aspect of how you lift weights, of how you go watch videotape, of how you interact with teammates. All those types of things that are ever present. So trying to morph these 20-year-olds and still never letting that belief go, makes it a little bit more than just basketball. We got a lot more to work with than we used to have.

24 Jun 17 - Basketball, NBA - admin - No Comments

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