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2014-15 Philadelphia 76ers: Optimism, Chip Kelly-Type Intrigue & Analytics


Must See, Young Matchups and Analytics

Recently, Trevor Magnotti of The Sixer Sense wrote that “The phrases ‘NBA Preseason’ and ‘Must-Watch’ are rarely used in conjunction.” While it’s not the prettiest brand of basketball in the early going (as seen in the Charlotte preseason game), Project Hinkie seems to be gradually moving forward. Photo: thesixersense.com

As Henry Wadsworth Longfellow once penned, “The heights by great men reached and kept were not attained by sudden flight, but they, while their companions slept, were toiling upward in the night.”

The 76ers are considered “must see” because of the youth movement, with the exception of Michael Carter-Williams, who is currently suffering from a torn labrum.

Tony Wroten (21) who has speed, strength, skill, and triple double capability, has shown accuracy and efficiency from the field. He has played well against both Boston and Charlotte. Nerlens Noel’s mid-range game looks outstanding and he is a live-wire- filling up the stat sheet in multiple categories.


What should we look for when watching the 76ers this year?

You may want to approach this season the way Eagles’ coach Chip Kelly might: through analytics.

Analytics is the development and coaching style that emphasizes patterns and relying on data. Simply put, it is evident that Brett Brown and his staff are not explaining success, they are trying to visualize it.

Thus far, Sixers’ general manager Sam Hinkie looks like he has assembled the team to produce and reflect data, describe player attributes in order to predict points per possession, and enhance the overall organizational performance.

Basketball requires the coach to maximize rotations and substitutions in the form of “predictive analytics” and “decision making.” Quite frankly, the 76ers are attempting to harness fan optimism and current methods in coaching, as they relate to the science and statistics of physical and mental conditioning.


Things to Look for with New Look 76ers

1. The NBA has started to really bring in analytics and use it. (The NFL is ahead of the curve)


2. Your typical “old school” Philadelphia fan may not admire analytics, but the Eagles are so innovative this may help sell the 76ers to the fan base.


3. Analytics has attracted talented coaches to the 76ers’ staff, such as head coach Brown and assistant coach Vance Walberg. Also, the 76ers have young player development coaches on staff interested in the enterprise; a way to break into the NBA and set you apart from the competition.


4. The 76ers have motivated athletes and the coaches pick the brains of players, or what basketball commentator and former college basketball coach Fran Fraschilla would call, “empowerment.”


5. Brett Brown probably learned more from Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Ginobili than Gregg Popovich and the coaches around him, so look for X & O comparisons and skill sets within a similar half-court framework.


6. The 76ers have coaches that people want to go to on specific areas of the profession (analytics, team defense, dribble drive offense, etc.)


7. The young players do not like it when coaches set out to change their shot, but rather work to help them improve it. This staff does this.


8. The 76ers have a beautiful new practice facility and are making the workouts fun. Younger talents in the NBA that don’t play a lot need this the most.


9. In addition to numbers crunching, several things to know in analytics are that:

a) Pace is an indicator of winning (NBA in general is big on pace).

            b) Projected points of what we should have had vs. what we gave up.

            c) No corner three pointers – Give up long contested 2’s.


10. Like Chip Kelly, in order to get where you want to go, have good luck, be out-going, creative, different, find your niche, find your role and study the game relentlessly.



Dan Falcone is a teacher and basketball coach with more than ten years of experience. He has a Masters in Modern American History from LaSalle University in Philadelphia and currently teaches in secondary education near Washington, D.C.  Dan is also a writer for the Sixer Sense.



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Photo: thesixersense.com