It’s been a transformative offseason for the Sixers. After Brett Brown’s ‘process era’ came to a heartbreaking end, it was clear drastic change was needed in order to inject a new lease of life into this very young team. With Doc Rivers now onboard and a flurry of new offensive talent, all eyes begin to turn towards what his first season in Philadelphia has in store.
Rivers is just what the doctor ordered
There are a few things about Doc Rivers that really makes it exciting to have him coaching the Sixers. The first would be that Rivers has played in the NBA as a point guard. Understanding players, from a player perspective, is a huge bonus for a coach, especially one tasked with helping Ben Simmons develop.
Secondly, Rivers has had plenty of success, having coached the Celtics to the 07-08 championship, in addition to successful stints in Orlando and Los Angeles. In 21 years as a coach, he’s only missed the playoffs five times. Tobias Harris saw his best seasons playing under Rivers. His coaching style and background should have the whole team excited to play.
Embiid still the center of attention?
Joel Embiid should see a return to form now that the Sixers have an offense that can actually space the floor and shoot three-pointers with moderate success. Gone should be the days of Embiid being handed the ball at the top of the key and having to create everything, while the most creative player on the team is relegated to a statue.
Embiid has a fire inside this year as he didn’t make any of the All-NBA teams last season and stated that he needs to re-establish himself throughout the league. He should be more of a force as Rivers uses quite a bit of pick and roll. With some very good defensive players on the floor, Joel should be able to play a little closer to the basket and improve on his blocking and rebounding numbers, which both saw a decline last year.
Simmons finally free
Ben Simmons is one of the most talented young players in the NBA. The issue for Simmons would be that he was too close to Brett Brown, as Brown had coached his Father and they’ve known each other since Simmons was a child. Whatever the relationship was, Brown couldn’t seem to get the best out of Ben, and that all changes with Doc Rivers in town.
Rivers has stated that he’s going to allow Ben to run the offense and play a more open style of basketball. It should be great for Simmons and the team as having the ball in the Aussie’s hands is the best bet for the offense.
His court vision and passing ability are well above most players in the league and his height and speed allow for him to be a tough matchup for any defender at any position on the court. Simmons has averaged 16/8/8 for his career so far and should see those numbers increase under Rivers’ coaching as well as having a group of actual shooters on the team that he can rely on. At the end of this season, I would expect Simmons to be in the conversation for league MVP.
Shake’s next step
Shake Milton is in line for a big year. Five of the last seven winners of the Sixth Man Award have been coached by Doc Rivers. Milton has the ability to quickly make number six.
Rivers loves Shake’s skillset and will demand more from him on defense. Scoring is where Shake will make his mark this year. Whether he’s on the floor with Simmons or running the point on the second unit, Milton stands to make a big impact on the team this year.
Rivers expects and usually gets a lot out of the first guy off the bench for his teams and this year shouldn’t be any different. While Milton is definitely a scorer, his 7’0” wingspan could help him on defense. It’s not too far out of the realm to see Milton’s name in the running for the Sixth Man of the Year award by the end of this year.
Shooters that can actually shoot
Anyone that watched a Sixers game last year saw a team that loved to shoot but didn’t really have the quality to make the shots count. This all changed in the offseason.
The additions of Seth Curry, Danny Green, and Ryan Broekhoff, give the Sixers three players with career three-point percentages over forty. Pair that with Miltons 40% as well as hoping that Harris can regain the touch that had him over 40% for the years he played under Rivers prior to being dealt to the Sixers, and you have a very different looking beast.
The team has really improved their outside shooting and it should open up the floor. Simmons and Embiid will both benefit greatly from these players and what they bring to the table. With Coach Rivers expected to have a more up-tempo offense, the Sixers should be back towards the top of the league in scoring and offensive rankings.
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