Once it was announced that Doc Rivers would be taking over the Sixers vacant head coach position, fans of the team were quick to jump to all sorts of excitement. Finals predictions were thrown around left and right as if Doc was the final missing puzzle piece.
I like Doc, he’s a solid coach, but things might not all be sunshine and rainbows for the veteran HC in Philly. In fact, I’ve identified three main reasons Rivers might actually have a rough go as the Sixers’ new coach.
It’s no secret that Philadelphia as a whole demands winning when it comes to their professional sports teams, but sometimes the expectations that come with coaching in Philly can genuinely get to an extreme level. Not even a full calendar year into Joe Girardi’s tenure as Phillies manager and people are calling for his head. The same could happen with Doc.
Rivers is not pulling up to the Sixers staring at a team ready to contend for a championship, in fact, he left that very thing behind in Los Angeles. Despite the new coaching hire, the Sixers still possess one of the oddest constructed rosters in all of basketball.
Al Horford is still on the team at the moment, Tobias Harris is at best an okay fit next to Embiid and Simmons, and Josh Richardson didn’t seem to mesh well at all during his first season as a 76er. The team essentially has zero point guards on the roster currently, no true backup center, and their sixth man is Furkan Korkmaz.
I don’t know about you, but that just doesn’t really sound like a very good team?
Doc is good at his job, but I’m not positive if he can elevate this jumbled mess to that of an instant world champion. At least not in his first season.
Sixers Have A Dysfunctional Front Office
It’s no secret that the Sixers have one of the worst-performing front offices in all of basketball at the moment, in fact it’s pretty much become common knowledge to the average fan these days given how often people tweet about Jimmy Butler leaving Philadelphia. Once again, Doc is a very good head coach, but it’s quite possible that not even he can combat the forces above him actively working against the team’s interests.
For example, if Elton Brand and the rest of the Philly front office decides they simply just don’t want to trade away Horford this offseason, there’s really nothing Doc can do about it. If they decide they don’t want to prioritize shooting in the draft, there’s nothing that Doc can really do about it. Rivers has flexed his muscle in the past when it comes to roster construction with other teams, but there’s zero guarantee he gets that same treatment in Philadelphia.
If the front office once again pulls all the wrong strings this offseason in terms of building a competitive roster, Doc will unfortunately still receive a fair amount of the blame. This fanbase has had zero problem scapegoating a coach for his team’s front office failures in the past, and I see no reason why they wouldn;t do it again (yes I’m talking about Brett Brown).
Poor Playoff Track Record could haunt Sixers
Whether you want to admit it or not, Doc Rivers’ poor playoff performances in recent years are very, very real. He’s the only head coach in NBA history to blow two separate 3-1 leads, and that didn’t just magically disappear upon his arrival to Philadelphia.
The Sixers never made the Eastern Conference Finals under Brett Brown, and that was one of the major reasons he saw his tenure as head coach finally come to an end. Josh Harris committed five years to Rivers on paper, but all it would take is one or two really bad playoff losses and that contract would get ripped up, just like it was in LA.
People will be quick to cite Rivers’ lone championship in 2008, but that was *checks notes* twelve years ago. Basketball is very much a “what have you done for me lately” league, and Rivers will have to quickly ditch the stigma around him that he struggles in the playoffs if he wants to survive in Philly.
Doc Rivers was a good hire, and undoubtedly a step in the right direction for a team that was fairly directionless. However, like all things, there will likely be some growing pains along the way.
Photo by Ric Tapia/Icon Sportswire
David is a 20 year old college student at the University of Maryland. A lifelong Philadelphia sports fan who started covering the teams back in late May of 2019. After just a few months of writing for fun on a personal blog, he now reports on the 76ers for PhillySportsNetwork.com and the Phillies for Fansided.com.