PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Larry Brown hasn’t always trusted the process. But he’s coming around.
The 76-year-old former 76ers coach, who has spent 52 years coaching basketball, believes Philadelphia — who owns the third overall pick this year’s draft — needs a point guard.
“There’s a lot of quality kids out there at number three,” Brown said Wednesday on The Howard Eskin Podcast. “At my way of thinking, they’ve got a really good backup point guard [in T.J. McConnell], but they don’t have a starting point guard. This is an unbelievable point guard class — that’s become the premiere position.
If Brown was Sixers general manager Bryan Colangelo he would take Kentucky point guard De’Aaron Fox at No. 3, assuming Markelle Fultz and Lonzo Ball go one-two to the Celtics and Lakers, respectively.
“I think Fox is out of this world,” Brown said. “I got to spend three weeks in Kentucky and I think he guards — I don’t think he shoots it great, but anybody that has a shot that’s not broken that goes in the NBA can become a better shooter if he works at it. And the kid [Dennis] Smith I think is a tremendous player from NC State.
“Josh Jackson, who I spent a lot of time with a KU, who can be a great defender, he’s a willing passer, he’s athletic as hell. If I was Philly and I knew how Brett Brown wants to coach and what we have — the assets we have — I’m gonna take Fox,” he said. “I would be happy if Ball was there and I would think maybe going number three would be too high for the Smith kid. I don’t think Ball is a true point, but I think he’s a hell of a player.”
Brown really likes Ben Simmons’ game, but doesn’t believe he is a true point guard.
“If Philly to me gets a point guard and Ben’s health, and the big kid is healthy — Joel [Embiid] — they have a real chance because Ben Simmons to me is a pretty special player,” Brown said. “I don’t believe he’s a point guard, I think he’s like a point forward. I wouldn’t want him bringing the ball up against pressure every night, but I’d get him the ball in the half court and he’ll make everybody around him better.”
Brown doesn’t love today’s NBA style, which promotes spacing, shooting, and minimal contact. He believes Allen Iverson and Michael Jordan would average 50 points per game in today’s era.
“There’s a lot of great players in the game that I would pay to see play, but there’s no physicality anymore,” Brown said. “I think if Michael or Allen played today they’d average 50 a game. There’s too many times where they stop, there’s not enough up and down, because you can’t aggressively guard and that troubles me.
“I don’t think Larry Bird, or Magic [Johnson], or Michael, or any of those guys would have thought about teaming. I thought they would think, ‘Hey if I’m a max player, it’s my responsibility to win games.’ And that really troubles me.
“Somewhere down the line, the conventional way of playing is gonna win. Where you play with a big man in the middle, where he gets the ball down on the block and has a chance to get fouled, get a high percentage shot, or your team gets a chance to get an offensive rebound, or you can run back on defense if all of those three things fail. But now everyone is trying to play four out with one in, and then whole game is all ball screens. And that really troubles me because every time you watch an NBA team play now it’s almost playing the same way, except for San Antonio, and Memphis, and maybe Utah.”
Subscribe to The Howard Eskin podcast here.