Brett Brown is not the Boomers’ answer

In the early hours of Wednesday 20 November 2019, ESPN Senior NBA Insider Adrian Wojnarowski reported via Twitter that the Boomers, Australian men’s national basketball team, would move on from current head coach Andrej Lemanis.

Appointed in his place, Philadelphia 76ers head coach Brett Brown.

An American, Brown has rich history with Australian basketball programs. Stints with North Melbourne and Sydney in the 1990s and 2000s saw Brown coach 250 NBL matches, winning one Championship with the Giants.

In the same era, Brown spent time working as an assistant for the Boomers and eventually became the head coach in 2009, a role he held until his resignation in 2012.

A string of underwhelming results under Lemanis justified Basketball Australia’s choice to shake things up and elect a new strategy moving forward.

Unfortunately, this is a shortsighted, knee-jerk reaction that doesn’t bode well for the future of the Boomers.

Brett Brown is a mediocre coach. His NBA winning percentage is 36 per cent.

He’s spent most of his NBA coaching years without expectations. When he has had expectations, Brown has underachieved.

Brown is very much a talent-based coach, his teams have excelled when there are star players to structure a system around.

But the former assistant to San Antonio Spurs legend Gregg Popovich is not the type to make average players fit into a well-rounded system, which is exactly what the Boomers are missing; some sort of identity and order.

Our projected Tokyo 2020 roster won’t exactly play to Brown’s limited strengths, with most of our players either average or below average NBA talent.

The idea of Brett Brown coaching the Boomers seems great on paper for one notable reason, Ben Simmons.

Brown is currently Ben Simmons’ head coach at the 76ers and the only coach Simmons has played under in his short NBA career.

The move to hire Brown hinges on keeping Simmons interested in suiting up for the national team, by making the system and personnel nothing unusual.

This is important, because Simmons’ relationship with Basketball Australia and the country in general hasn’t exactly been smooth sailing in 2019.

Of course, Simmons skipped out of the FIBA World Cup and was “racially profiled” and “singled out” at Melbourne’s Crown Casino in one of his last visits.

It makes sense that Basketball Australia are doing all they can to smoothen their relationship with what is quite possibly Australia’s best talent ever.

But this “Simmons saviour” mindset is inherently flawed and could end up doing the exact opposite of their intentions. Brown might not actually be Simmons’ coach for much longer.

By all reports, Brown narrowly avoided the boot after last season’s disappointing playoff run with the 76ers, and the team isn’t playing any better to start this season.

The other way this could happen is if Simmons is traded, which is increasingly likely if they continue to underachieve.

As head coach, Brett Brown would certainly be across any trade that takes place. If a Simmons trade did occur, the 23-year-old would know that Brown was a part of that decision, and why would he want to play for that guy?

This shortsighted, shotgun move from Basketball Australia continues their tradition of putting band-aids over bullet wounds when it’s obvious the national program really needs a total, top to bottom restructure.

Image by Jarrod Pettit