After his exit from the Los Angeles Clippers earlier in the week, Doc Rivers was not going to be unemployed long. On Thursday afternoon, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Rivers agreed to become the next coach of the Philadelphia 76ers.
Rivers looks like the ideal coach for the 76ers, with a lot of success and experience coaching star players to help the franchise get over the playoff hump. Center Joel Embiid was quick to greet his new coach on Twitter.
Back on Feb. 11, a month before the NBA season was shut down when the COVID-19 pandemic took hold, the 76ers beat the Rivers’ Clippers 110-103. Embiid had 26 points (2-for-5 on 3-pointers) and nine rebounds in the game, while Ben Simmons posted a triple-double (26 points, 10 assists and 12 rebounds).
After that game, Rivers heaped some very lofty praise on Embiid and Simmons. It seems Rivers was asked to compare Embiid and Simmons to other duos.
“Embiid is a better scorer, obviously, and does things…and SIZE, you can’t plan for that. When Simmons has the ball he’s more like Magic, I guess, Magic and Kareem in some ways.”
Comparing Embiid to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Simmons to Magic Johnson is quite aggressive. Kareem is only the NBA’s all-time leading scorer, while Johnson is fifth all-time in assists.
Rivers went on to describe Embiid as “a post-5 that can stretch-5”. A 31.9 percent career rate from beyond the arc might disagree with the idea of Embiid as a “stretch-5”, but he did improve to 33.1 percent from 3-point range this past season (30 percent in 2018-19). To be fair, Embiid is a somewhat viable threat away from the basket. Via Basketball Reference, he converted at nearly 47 percent from 3-10 feet out this season while making over 40 percent of his shots from 10-16 feet out.
Rivers will now get a chance to coach Embiid and Simmons, barring a trade.