The 76ers loaded up on sharpshooters and added a defensive-minded coaching staff in the offseason.
So how does new coach Doc Rivers want the team’s identity to be defined this season?
“That’s a great question,” Rivers said. “I have my own thoughts that I will not share yet, because I want to make sure we get in the gym. I call it the lab. You’ve got to get in there. The identity has to be what they believe, not what I want it to be.”
Rivers disclosed that the Sixers should be a great defensive team, but he knows the team needs balance to be a contender. Most NBA titles have been won by a team ranked in the top 10 for both offense and defense. The Sixers are striving to do the same.
“If we can do that, you know, historically, that would say we’re one of the elite teams,” Rivers said. “And it’s going to take an elite effort to get there.”
The Sixers ranked 20th in the league in scoring last season, averaging 110.7 points per game. They were 11th in field-goal percentage (46.8) and ninth in three-point percentage (36.8). Defensively, they were sixth in points allowed (108.4 per game), 16th in field-goal percentage (46.3) and 13th in three-point percentage (35.3). But the Sixers gave up the fewest made three-pointers per game (10.4).
Rivers, who agreed to a five-year deal to coach the Sixers on Oct. 1, hired two defensive-minded assistants in Dave Joerger and Dan Burke.
The Sixers added sharpshooters in Seth Curry and Danny Green via separate trades on the same day they selected Isaiah Joe with the 49th pick in the NBA draft. The team also added Dakota Mathias on a two-way deal and signed Ryan Broekhoff to a non-guaranteed deal.
As the start of the NBA season approaches on Dec. 22, the one thing we know is that the Sixers will play with pace and utilize more pick-and-rolls under Rivers.
“And I guarantee you’ll see more pick-and-rolls with Ben [Simmons] and Joel [Embiid] in them,” the coach said.
Rivers said he also liked some of the movement sets the Sixers ran under former coach Brett Brown.
“So we want to make sure because of this shortened preseason, shortened training camp and quick first game, that we don’t try to do too much,” Rivers said. “We want to make them as comfortable as possible.”