Being an NBA coach is an inherently difficult job in the best of circumstances.
The list of things Brett Brown, in his third season at the helm of the 76ers, deals with on a day-to-day basis is nothing to be trifled with.
The head coach is essentially tasked with preparing a team of college sophomores and juniors (who have left college early for the NBA) to go up against LeBron James, Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving. And then do it again against the Hawks, Raptors or Timberwolves.
One of the issues Brown has to chart a course through is deciding which personnel to have on the floor when, and for how long.
"You're always trying to find matchups first," the coach said Sunday after a 95-85 loss to the Cavaliers. "Our defensive players aren't our offensive players and vice versa. The holy grail of this league is two-way players who can guard and make shots. We are trying to grow Jerami [Grant], we are trying to go Jakarr [Sampson], those two are our best perimeter defenders but percentage wise they are our lower percentage shooters."
So it gets complicated with a player like Hollis Thompson, to whom Brown is rewarding with 26.2 minutes per game for his defensive prowess. The second-year pro shoots a meager .39.9 percent from the field, making it a difficult decision to leave him on the floor sometimes.
"All those things come to my mind when you try to rotate, sub and play a team," Brown said. "Often times it ends up the strategy at the start plays out but there are more decisions to be made with this amount of healthy players."
One decision Brown hasn't really had to make is about third-overall pick Jahlil Okafor, whose 21 point performance against the Cavs lifted his scoring total to 17.4 points per game, in just over 30 minutes per game.
"My teammates are looking for me," Okafor said. "I've never had trouble in this league scoring. My teammates look for me and coaches try and get the ball to me."
Point guard Ish Smith has been a little Allen Iverson on the floor for the Sixers, scoring over 16 points per game during his nine games with the team (since a trade from New Orleans). And he's also getting Okafor the ball. The guard leads Philadelphia with 7.8 assists thus far.
He's also not shy, like A.I. before him, to take the ball to the basket.
"I think Ish, you feel like he's putting up a lot of shots but they're at the rim, they're layups," Brown said.
The Sixers have a few days off before hosting the Bulls at 7 p.m. Thursday.