Doc Rivers Says 76ers Roster Is 'Loaded' with Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistOctober 5, 2020

Los Angeles Clippers head coach Doc Rivers, right, complains about a call during the first half of an NBA conference semifinal playoff basketball game against the Denver Nuggets, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

The Philadelphia 76ers officially introduced new head coach Doc Rivers on Monday, and the former Orlando Magic, Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Clippers head honcho wasted little time in mentioning the importance of Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons to the team's future. 

"[Embiid and Simmons] won 65 percent of their games together..." he told reporters during the press conference. "If you watch my teams, I don't get lost in what positions guys play. My teams have always been very good offensively, top-five overall, and we score points."

Ohm Youngmisuk @NotoriousOHM

Doc Rivers on Joel Embiid: "Watching him on film last couple of days is exciting... I think he is an dominant big man and will be a dominant big man for me."

"I love the pieces here..." he added. "This team is loaded."

In relation to Simmons, Rivers was asked about how to get him to shoot jump shots, but the head coach said he's "not concerned with that."

"I’m concerned with what it takes to win," Rivers said. "If that’s what it takes, we’ll figure it out...Ben has proven he is a guy that can create scoring."

He did note that winning requires sacrifice, however.

"You never stop growing. If we're going to win, you have to do something different," he said. "Every single player will have to give up something."

"I'm going to need them to buy in, buy in together as a group, and more of a typical introduction," he added, saying he's already reached out to the team's players.

Serena Winters @SerenaWinters

Doc Rivers: “I think you have to be who you are...I think the mistake a lot of teams made, is that everyone wanted to be Golden State, but noone could shoot like Golden State, so to me, everyone made a mistake. You have to be the best version of you & not apologize for that." https://t.co/8eOTQ4eTkP

Another factor to monitor will be the load management of players like Embiid, who has a history of battling injuries:

Kyle Neubeck @KyleNeubeck

Rivers says he’s been on the right and wrong side of load management as a coach, but he thinks it’s good generally and has to be applied case to case. Says he could have used it as a player: “Have you seen me walk? I walk like that because there was no load management.”

Rivers said it was the team's young stars that attracted him to the job, and that he was considering a break from coaching before the Sixers called:

brianseltzer @brianseltzer

Doc thought he was ready to take a break. So why is he here? "It was a job you just couldn't turn down." https://t.co/i0OGuN5p4v

It wasn't just Embiid and Simmons who appealed to Rivers, however, as he also expressed excitement about working with Tobias Harris again. The two were paired on the Clippers prior to Harris' trade to Philadelphia in the 2018-19 season. 

"I loved him. I loved coaching him," Rivers told reporters. "I like that he's a multi-positional player. We kept moving him back and forth in L.A."

He spoke highly of Shake Milton as well:

Lauren Rosen @LaurenMRosen

Doc Rivers spoke with Shake Milton over the phone last night... Safe to say he's a fan of this rising star. Reminder: Milton exploded for 39 PTS (7-9 3PT) against the Clippers on March 1. Full quote ⤵️ https://t.co/W4evtXadCt

In general, it sounds as though both Rivers and the Sixers are excited about the new partnership:

brianseltzer @brianseltzer

.@DocRivers: "I want to say how thrilled I am to be here. This is a historic organization and town that I want to be part of. I love the pieces here. I love what we have to work with. With Elton, I'm looking forward to turning this into a championship team." https://t.co/jbh3vHzhVk

Tom Moore @TomMoorePhilly

#Sixers GM Elton Brand: 'Doc stood out in all categories … I believe Doc had help us unlock our potential, on and off the court. … Doc is a great fit for our franchise and our city. I know there’s a lot of work to be done.'

Rivers has a title under his belt and has worked with stars like Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, so he'll bring an interesting perspective to working with Embiid and Simmons. 

While it's fair to argue that his two star-laden Clippers teams never played up to expectations, Rivers also has missed the playoffs just once in his last 13 seasons. Overall, he brings a 943-681 record to Philadelphia. 

The Sixers will go as far as Embiid and Simmons can take them. While the roster needs some reworking—it's hard to see a future for Al Horford in Philly, who never fit next to Embiid and is far too expensive to be coming off the bench—Rivers' main priority will be getting the most out of the young star duo. 

Expectations are sky high in Philly. With the Rivers hire, excitement is high as well after a disappointing 2019-20 campaign.  


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