Despite the intense scrutiny surrounding the on-court fit between the current members of the Philadelphia 76ers‘ roster – particularly the fit between All-Stars Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid – head coach Doc Rivers offered this assessment of his new club: “I love the pieces here.”
“(Embiid and Simmons have) won 65% of the games that they’ve played in, right? It clearly works when they play together,” Rivers told reporters during his introductory press conference Monday.
“I look at how many points we score as a team,” Rivers added. “I don’t care how we score. My teams have always been very good offensively, in the top five overall, and we score points, and we score points in a lot of different ways. We’ve got Ben, (who) can score points, we’ve got Joel, we’ve got Tobias (Harris), we have Shake (Milton), we’ve got Josh (Richardson). This team’s loaded with talent, we just have to figure out how to make it work the best.”
Philadelphia has failed to advance past the second round of the playoffs in three straight seasons while being led by Simmons and Embiid. Simmons’ inability to space the floor can lead to him playing close to the hoop, which is Embiid’s preferred real estate as one of the league’s last high-volume post scorers.
Additionally, the 76ers only outscored their opponents by 0.6 points per 100 possessions with both Simmons and Embiid on the court this past season, according to NBA Stats. That razor-thin margin just barely edged out the Phoenix Suns’ overall net rating of 0.5.
Philadelphia also boasted an overall net rating of 5.2 when Embiid played without Simmons and a rating of 1.7 when just Simmons was on the court.
As for big man Al Horford, who started 61 of 67 appearances in his first year with the 76ers, Rivers couldn’t commit to the 34-year-old continuing to start next to Embiid in 2020-21.
“I don’t know that yet,” Rivers said. “I will say this: At some point, they will absolutely have to play together, you know? But I can’t tell you what my starting lineup is gonna be on the first day of my job. I just need more time for that.”