After the Philadelphia 76ers got swept by the Boston Celtics in the first round of the 2020 playoffs, the team fired head coach Brett Brown and conducted a thorough coaching search. The franchise was eager to find the right tactician to get the best out of the Ben Simmons-Joel Embiid duo and interviewed a bevy of candidates.
Former Cleveland Cavaliers head coach Tyronn Lue, who coached the Cavs to the 2016 title over the Golden State Warriors, interviewed with the Sixers. Many around the NBA thought he was going to land the job. However, Philadelphia wound up hiring Doc Rivers, who parted ways with the LA Clippers. Lue, meanwhile, replaced Rivers as the Clippers’ head coach.
Joel Embiid, one of the best players in the NBA, is eager to win a championship with the Sixers this upcoming season. While Philadelphia general manager Elton Brand hired Doc Rivers due to the Chicago native’s championship pedigree, it appears Embiid may have played a role in Tyronn Lue not getting the job.
Joel Embiid is an elite two-way player for the Sixers
Joel Embiid missed the first two years of his NBA career due to injury. However, ever since he made his debut during the 2016-17 season, Embiid has been a monster for the Sixers on both ends of the court.
A three-time All-Star, Embiid has career averages of 23.9 points, 11.5 rebounds, 3.1 assists, and 1.8 blocks with the Sixers while shooting 48.0% from the field, 31.9% from beyond the arc, and 79.3% from the free-throw line. Philadelphia has made the playoffs three years in a row thanks to Embiid’s dominant play.
As long as he stays healthy, Joel Embiid has Hall of Fame potential. The 26-year-old is one of the few NBA players who can contend for the MVP and Defensive Player of the Year Award every season. The Sixers are certainly grateful to have Embiid on the roster as the franchise cornerstone.
Joel Embiid-Ben Simmons duo has been an iffy fit
Due to Ben Simmons’ lack of a jump shot, Joel Embiid oftentimes gets double-teamed in the post and doesn’t have enough room to operate. Opposing teams pack the paint against Simmons and dare him to shoot from the outside, preventing Embiid from feasting in the paint.
The Sixers haven’t gotten past the second round of the playoffs with Embiid and Simmons leading the way. Many pundits believe the 2020-21 season is the final campaign for Embiid and Simmons to prove they can co-exist on the court. Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey is one of the most aggressive execs in NBA history and won’t be afraid to make drastic changes in Philadelphia.
If Ben Simmons can develop a mid-range jumper, the Sixers’ offense would be so much more explosive with the lefty and Joel Embiid as the main cogs. However, it’s unknown if Simmons has what it takes to improve his jump shot. With that being said, the Embiid-Simmons duo will continue to be a question mark moving forward.
Tyronn Lue didn’t get the Sixers’ job because of Embiid
Tyronn Lue has a relationship with agent Rich Paul of Klutch Sports. Paul represents LeBron James and Ben Simmons and is arguably the most powerful agent in the NBA.
Joel Embiid, sensing that the Sixers could hire Lue this past offseason, ultimately opposed Lue as a coach “for X’s and O’s reasons and for the optics of Simmons’ guy getting the job,” according to Bill Oram and Joe Vardon of The Athletic. Every star player in the NBA wants the franchise they play for to listen to them on big decisions, and it looks like Embiid got his way on the Lue matter.
Aside from hiring Doc Rivers, the Sixers also traded for Danny Green and Seth Curry and signed Dwight Howard. Daryl Morey was able to trade Al Horford and his terrible contract to the Oklahoma City Thunder for Green, who will help space the floor for the Sixers with his perimeter shooting skills.
As is the case every season, the Sixers will ultimately go as far as Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons can take them. It’s going to be fascinating to see how Doc Rivers meshes with his two new All-Stars.
Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference.