Can Rivers get the best out of Embiid and Simmons?

Joel Embiid
Photo: USA Today Images

The Philadelphia 76ers monumentally underachieved in the 2019/20 season, falling at the first stage of the post-season after being swept by the Boston Celtics. It resulted in the firing of Brett Brown after seven seasons at the franchise and the hiring of Doc Rivers.

Rivers and the 76ers are seemingly not a great fit on paper, with the head coach having also underachieved during his time with the Los Angeles Clippers. Even with Kawhi Leonard and Paul George on his roster, Rivers failed to guide the Clippers into the Western Conference Finals.

Given the talent available, Los Angeles opted to move on from the 59-year-old, as explained by Rivers now has another quality group of players at his disposal and it will be fascinating to see whether he can succeed where his predecessor failed and overcome his own issues from his time in L.A. Despite Philadelphia’s struggles last season they are still one of the top contenders in the Eastern Conference.

However, with the presence of the Milwaukee Bucks, Brooklyn Nets, Boston Celtics, Miami Heat, and Toronto Raptors – they’re not the leaders in the bid to reach the NBA Finals. Therefore there is value to be found on the 76ers. Furthermore, by using sites like when betting, Barstool Sportsbook bonuses are available to punt on Rivers’ men, with an option of $500 risk-free bet. They could be a solid option, although there is plenty of work ahead for the head coach to resolve issues on his talented roster.

Al Horford was supposed to be the player that could push the 76ers over the top. He made a stunning switch to Philadelphia from the Celtics, robbing Brad Stevens’ men of their All-Star centre. However, Horford flattered to deceive, and his lucrative four-year contract appears to be a disastrous decision by the Sixers’ front office. Reports suggest that they are already looking to move on from the 34-year-old, putting him on the trade block in the off-season. Whether they are able to find a team willing to take on his deal over the next three years remains to be seen.

Tobias Harris and Josh Richardson were two other high-profile moves that failed to deliver for the franchise. Harris went missing in key stretches last term, and underperformed in the playoff defeat to the Celtics. He was unable to ease the burden on Joel Embiid, forcing the All-Star to attempt to carry the team on his back single-handed. Richardson was not a great deal better, although his contract is far less lucrative. The 27-year-old has qualities that appeal to Rivers, but he also had to be moved on to acquire depth pieces needed elsewhere on the roster.

Embiid and Simmons are the cornerstones of the team, and will be for the next 10 years. Brown did not always get his two men firing on all cylinders. He was not helped by the health of the latter, who missed the series against the Celtics. Embiid is mercurial – when he’s operating at the peak of his powers, few players in the league can match his production. On the other hand, when he goes into a slump, Embiid can be detrimental to the team. Developing Embiid into a consistent force on the court will be the point of emphasis for Rivers.

Simmons’ knee injury loomed large for the Sixers in the post-season. The 24-year-old has developed into one of the best defenders in the NBA, leading the league in steals in 2020 as well as being named to the NBA All-Defensive Team. Simmons needs to work on the other side of his game, as highlighted by, to support Embiid in the final third of the court. Rivers has worked wonders with point guards in the past, and he might be the perfect man to get the best out of Simmons.

Those two players will hold the key for the Sixers next term and beyond. There is a lot of quality beginning to emerge in the Eastern Conference. If Rivers can get Embiid and Simmons to rise higher than the rest, then it could be a very successful combination for the franchise.