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Can Doc Rivers Help the 76ers Bounce Back in 2021?

After an underwhelming Playoff run and a first round exit from the 76ers in 2020, HC Brett Brown was fired and later replaced by veteran HC Doc Rivers. Although Ben Simmons missed all of the Playoffs with a dislocated knee, a 0-4 sweep against the Celtics along with other fundamental issues pushed Brett Brown’s firing over the edge.

Moving onto the 76ers, Doc Rivers should be able to bring much needed consistency to a roster that has been all but that. Although the 76ers boasted the highest home record in the NBA at 31-4, they were among the bottom teams with their away record of 12-26. Contrarily, Rivers’ 2020 Clippers were able to obtain the second best record in the Western Conference at 27-9 at home and 22-14 on the road. Due to this, Rivers has continued to get his teams into the postseason; only missing the Playoffs once in the past 13 years of him being a coach.

In his short time of being HC of the 76ers, Doc Rivers has already made a huge impact on free agency and trades. By trading away Al Horford, the 76ers got rid of someone who played average for them last year while saving tens of millions of dollars. Additionally, by acquiring Danny Green in this trade, the 76ers killed two birds with one stone by also addressing much needed help for shooting.

Rivers continued to address 3-point shooting during the 2020 NBA Draft when the 76ers traded Josh Richardson and the 36th pick for Seth Curry. Curry, who has now cemented himself as one of the top shooters in the League, should have a drastic impact for the 76ers by freeing up space for both Simmons and Embiid. This will greatly increase the efficiency of the 76ers offense, which, despite not really having any true shooters for the past several years, has allowed Simmons to lead the League in most 3-pointers generated. Consequently, this number should also see a boost with the additions of Green and Curry.

On top of adding shooters and moving Horford’s contract, Rivers has also made an effort to secure quality depth. By leveraging his experience and reputation as a coach, Rivers has made Philadelphia a destination where players want to go. This played a key role in the 76ers’ signing of Dwight Howard, who learned of Rondo’s praise for Rivers when asking about him. 

Additionally, one of the best potential depth moves Rivers has made was the 76ers’ first round pick in the 2020 Draft: Tyrese Maxey. Maxey, who was expected to be a lottery pick in the draft, fell all the way to the 76ers at the 21st pick. Although Maxey has several flaws in his game right now, he has an extremely high ceiling and could end up being the biggest steal of the draft. As the 76ers didn’t have an imminent need for current assets during the draft, this was the perfect choice for them as Maxey can slowly develop his game over the years.

With a shortened offseason and the 2021 NBA Season set to start on Dec. 22, Rivers has done exceptionally well with the time he has had to make necessary adjustments to the 76ers roster. By providing help at shooting, Rivers intends to support his two biggest stars in Simmons and Embiid by creating open targets and allowing space inside for them to work. Additionally, by securing quality depth in Howard and Maxey, Rivers has made sure to cover any remaining holes in the roster while also preparing for its future. As a result, Doc Rivers should allow the 76ers to bounce back in 2021, likely making it past the first round of the Playoffs.

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