BRETT BROWN knows he probably won't turn the 76ers' 1-28 season around with Nerlens Noel shooting 12- to 18-footers. He knows Jerami Grant and Tony Wroten lining up jumpers from three-point range won't help snap the current 10-game losing streak.
This process, however, as fans know all too well, isn't about winning as much as it is developing. So if Noel is going to be able to play well with Jahlil Okafor and maybe Joel Embiid, having him be able to play away from the basket a bit at the offensive end is desirable. And if Grant is going to stay in the NBA, he probably has to develop some kind of an outside game, and Wroten certainly would benefit if he could be at least some kind of formidable threat from beyond the arc. Right now the two of them are a combined 13-for-74 (17.6 percent).
Still, Brown rolls with it as he sees the development side clearer right now than the winning.
"I feel like it's a feel-good thing for Nerlens (making jumpers)," said Brown, whose team hosts the Memphis Grizzlies on Tuesday night. "This part of our season is extremely hard. Making sure that these guys, mentally, don't crumble. Because we have on the court lately. It's at that fragile part where we have to keep finding positives to let them find ways to feel good about themselves. I think him doing that validates the work that he put in over the summertime and lets him feel a little bit better about himself.
"You always walk that line of, 'Do you want Tony Wroten shooting a three-point shot? Do you want Jerami Grant shooting a three-point shot? Do you want Nerlens Noel shooting that 16-, 17-foot shot?' It's all over the place. Look at what (T.J. McConnell's) done because we let him do it and we've grown him. What is he, 37 percent from the NBA three-point line? Who would have thunk that? So you walk that line. Are you developing or aren't you? Because right now, it hurts the team. Their percentages we read are really low. But when you look at the volume of shots they put in at practice and you look at where we are, it's tormenting in many ways.
"With Jerami and Tony and Nerlens, what is their path? Are we just going to box them in because we're losing and the percentages say that you're not good at it right now? It's a difficult line. If we're going to deliver on what we said, we're about development and trying to grow these guys, then it starts with me. And math, at times, says that that's not really wise. But you're either in development phase or you're not."
Someone who is developing but definitely won't be able to help the team this season is Embiid. He was at practice Monday doing light (non-jumping) shooting drills. His form is shooting guard-like - perfect rotation and follow-through. His body looks good, and it was eye-opening to see how much he dwarfed Noel when they stood next to each other. He is sort of a dose of medicine during this sickening season.
"He's doing well," Brown said. "It's all centered around his health and interacting with the team. He's on a different schedule that was sort of re-created to keep his mood and spirit up. We don't force him to be in front of us every second of his life. We enjoy seeing him as much as we can. This happens to be one of those times where he can get rehab and be a part of us. But it's good to see him."
Asked whether Embiid was ahead of his rehab from a year ago, Brown said: "Mentally, leaps and bounds. Physically, I just know what I see. It's like just a committed, hopeful athlete. He sees that he's doing the right thing. He feels like he's doing the right thing. He is doing the right thing. I just see somebody that's got that edge where he wants to get going again. I think, mentally, it's night and day if you're talking about this time in December last year."
Unfortunately for the fans, the team is very similar to a year ago.
On Twitter: @BobCooney76