The name alone vaulted the Los Angeles Clippers to championship contender status. But, is it really worth the hype?
After leaving the Boston Celtics because he didn’t want to be part of a rebuilding phase, it’s worth asking: Is Rivers the man who can take the new-look Clippers to the promised land?
He might, and here’s how.
Rivers is a proven winner. He has a lifetime .554 winning percentage. In Orlando, he made the playoffs in three of the five years he was there. And in Boston, he made it to the NBA Finals twice, winning once.
He has a good reputation as a top-notch coach. Rivers ran an All-Star team in Boston (including three Hall of Famers) into a perfect unit. He balanced the egos of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, and his point guard project Rajon Rondo. Rivers made these All-Stars buy into a system of team play, even convincing franchise players Garnett and Allen that Pierce was the leader of the Celtics in the beginning. He also has a reputation for great play-calls after timeouts (look at any Paul Pierce designed play).
So, what can he bring to the Clippers besides being a “players” coach, a proven winner, and a good play caller?
He adds to the new philosophy in Clipperland. First, he became the senior vice president of basketball operations after his move to Los Angeles. He’s already made plenty of moves in his influence. Rivers played a big part to the acquisitions and trades that landed J.J Redick and Jared Dudley. These are players that the Clippers needed (shooting, young wings) and Rivers already knew the needs of the team.
Lastly, Rivers may just bring the same offensive and defensive schemes that he made famous in Boston. First, the lack of offensive rebounds in Boston (last in the league last season 2012-13) means that the team will rush back on transition defense. This will lead to less chaotic possessions for the Clippers on defensive and therefore a rise in efficiency. Next, the improved call-making off timeouts will ease pressure off the overall lineup in decision-making. An improvement in offensive efficiency should be expected as well. Lastly, the addition of traditional shooters in Redick and Dudley implies more traditional half-court offensive sets — something Chris Paul is great at.
Rivers may have left Boston with some controversy, but he may be the answer Los Angeles needed.
Photo by Keith Allison / Wikimedia Commons
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