After 31 games this season, the Philadelphia 76ers had a record of 1-30. Entering the All-Star break this weekend, they now sit on a record of 8-45.
The team is still behind their 12-41 record from this point last season, but head coach Brett Brown has seen improvements in the squad.
He said, according to CSNPhilly: “We’re a lot better off now than we were in that first third. We’re a lot better off, I think in some ways, moving forward with this group that we have versus even last year. I think we’re a little bit deeper, I think we’re a little bit more talented, and I’m looking forward to the final third.”
Since Ish Smith rejoined the team in December last year, the Sixers have gone 7-15. The 27-year-old has scored on average 15.3 points, a team-high 7.9 assists, and 3.8 rebounds in 31.2 minutes a game.
Brown has recognised that the team has together been so much better since Smith returned.
He said: I think we’re a lot different than we were on Dec. 26 and even with the first arrival of Ish,” he said. “You see Jerami Grant blossoming right before everybody’s eyes. You see Nerlens (Noel) and Jahlil (Okafor) doing a little bit better playing together. ... That pairing, I think, is growing.
“You see Nik (Stauskas) and Robert (Covington) are starting to come of age with that two-way commitment is being shown. I thought Nik did a hell of a job chasing (J.J.) Redick around the other night. All over the place, I feel like there’s certainly growth.”
Although their record says otherwise, Brown is happy with the way his team is performing in games against bigger teams.
"I think that when you point to some of the performances we’ve had against really good teams, I think that we’re heading the way that we all want. I feel like the intensity defensively is good.
"I think that going through the experiences of closing out games and learning how to manage situations is ever-present. We’ve experienced some of those things that our young guys will learn from.
Brown overall is pleased with his young squad and he hopes they can continue to grow throughout the second half of the season.
“I think their attitude is A-plus,” he said. “I think their teammateship is A-plus. I think there’s a physical side and a toughness that is an A. I think our defense is a B, B-plus. We can move up even further. I think the things we said we were going to do, we’re starting to do.”
With the Sixers currently ranked last in the NBA, there is still a lot of improvement needed, but at least the coach is happy the team is going in the right direction.
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