There have been a lot of changes made to the Philadelphia 76ers organization since hiring Doc Rivers about 2 weeks ago. Here’s a detailed roundup on the moves with opinions on each:
The Joerger Factor
Dave Joerger was speculated by some to be a possible target in the Sixers head coaching search but he has now agreed to be an assistant on Doc Rivers staff. Joerger has been a head coach 2 times in the past. He holds a career record of 245-247 in 6 seasons with both the Memphis Grizzlies and Sacramento Kings. Joerger had a huge impact in both organizations.
With the Grizzlies, Joerger was the driving force behind the “Grit and Grind” era of Grizzlies basketball. Those Grizzlies teams were renowned for their defense and team oriented style of basketball. Under Joerger, the Grizzlies defensive rating from 2013-2015, ranked in the top ten. The thing that makes those Grizzlies team so interesting is the fact that they ranked near the bottom of the league in offensive pace in each of Joerger’s 3 seasons at the helm, but they were still successful. The team made the playoffs in each of Joerger’s 3 seasons as head coach. The apex of this era of the team was going up 2-1 on the eventual NBA champion Golden State Warriors in 2015. Joerger got the absolute most out of those teams and those players. A perfect representation of this is Quincy Pondexter, who under Joerger had the highest win shares and defensive win shares of his career.
The thing that makes Joerger such a great hire is the fact that, yes he’s one of the best defensive minds from a coaching standpoint in the NBA but along with that Joerger is also pretty good offensively as well. This can especially relate to the 76ers because of Joerger’s past experiences. Under Joerger, Marc Gasol had the highest PER (21.7) of his career and 2nd most points per game of his career (17.4). Once Joerger was fired from Memphis, he was hired by the Sacramento Kings. Once with the Kings, Joerger adapted his offense to a more quicker pace, finishing 3rd in pace in 2018-19. That season was also the year the Kings finished with their highest win total in over 13 years.
Another positive for the Sixers from Joerger’s past is the fact that he coached a potential trade target: Buddy Hield. Of course there is the fact that Joerger and Hield had a bit of an altercation in 2019 after Hield took (and made) 2 clutch 3 pointers. The problem was (I think), they weren’t the plays that Joerger called.
Joerger has since said, Those kinds of things do happen and they’re resolved when it’s over,” Joerger said. “What happens on the court happens on the court. Things are said, and I love him to death.” Under Joeger, Hield exploded offensively, averaging the highest points per game, 3 point FG percentage, and true shooting percentage. Because of the need and the fact that Joerger isn’t the head huncho, I don’t think this move could impede on the Sixers chances to land the star guard, who they have been linked to.
Ultimately, Joerger was hired because of his defense, and for good reason. However, his offensive mind should not be overlooked. He and Rivers are a good match because they both did some of the same things: shots off screens and high pick and roll frequency. In Joerger’s last season as the Kings head coach (2018-19), the Kings ranked 9th in the league in shots off screens percentile with 72.4 and the Clippers ranked 2nd behind the Warriors, with 96.6 (stats via NBA.com).
Front Office Shuffling
The 76ers made two moves this week which changed the front office structure of the team. The organization added former Indiana Pacers senior vice president of basketball operations, Peter Dinwiddie and former Orlando Magic director of scouting, Prosper Karangwa. Dinwiddie replaces Alex Rucker, who has reportedly been re-assigned to a different position within the organization (According to PhillyVoice).
Peter Dinwiddie began his sports career after he earned a law degree from New England Law School. The law degree is actually what got Dinwiddie’s foot in the door with the Pacers, due to former Pacers CEO, Donnie Walsh also having a law degree and Walsh being interested in working with Dinwiddie. (This story is written about in comprehensive fashion by Scott Agnes on The Athletic). According to Tony East, “He’s (Dinwiddie) a salary cap genius and everyone says he’s one of the smartest guys in the organization.”
Dinwiddie is widely regarded as the cap guru, within the Pacers organization. The Pacers are one of the last teams in terms of payroll, coming in at 27th in the league (according to Basketball Reference) for the 2019-20 season. Dinwiddie’s cap crunching has helped the Pacers steer clear of any bad contracts that could hinder the team. This is significant because as you know, the 76ers gave 34-year-old Al Horford a 4-yr $109 million contract and Dinwiddie has experience in helping to get rid of bad contracts or contracts in which players are making large amounts of money but aren’t producing (Monta Ellis/Al Jefferson/Danny Granger).
The hiring of Dinwiddie is also significant because in an era of basketball where everything is driven by glitz, glamour, and marketability, Dinwiddie’s former team (the Pacers) have managed to stay afloat and be competitive. They’ve acquired competitive glue guys like Domantis Sabonis, Malcolm Brogdon, Jeremy Lamb, the Holiday brothers, and T.J. McConnell). Dinwiddie was apart of an organization that relies upon drafting and developing talent in order to be competitive. Hopefully he can bring some of that culture with him to Philadelphia.
Prosper Karangwa was hired as the team’s Vice President of Player Personnel. Karangwa was previously the Orlando Magic’s director of college scouting from 2016 until now. There isn’t a lot of information on Karangwa available but according to AP Sports writer, Tim Reynolds, 76ers fans should get to know the 6’7 former overseas player.
Karangwa was promoted to director of college scouting in 2016. Some of the more notable draft selections during that time:
- 2016: (Round 1- Pick 11) Domantis Sabonis *Was traded to Oklahoma City in the Serge Ibaka deal* (Also has history with Dinwiddie)
- 2016: (Round 2 – Pick 47) Jake Layman *Traded for a future 2nd Round Pick and Cash Considerations*
- 2017: (Round 1 – Pick 6) Jonathan Isaac
- 2017: (Round 2 – Pick 33) Wesley Iwundu
- 2018: (Round 1 – Pick 6) Mohamed Bamba
- 2019: (Round 1 – Pick 16) Chuma Okeke
There is a common theme amongst all these players, especially from 2017 to the current day: Positional length and long wingspans.
- Isaac’s wingspan: 7’1/Height: 6’11
- Iwundu’s wingspan: 7’1/Height: 6’6
- Bamba’s wingspan: 7’10/Height: 7’0
- Okeke’s wingspan: 7’0/Height: 6’8
Each player has insane length and high ceiling. The Magic’s general manager is John Hammond. Hammond was the general manager when the Milwaukee Bucks selected Giannis Antetokounmpo in 2013. With the Magic, Hammond continued his philosophy of selecting long and lengthy players with high two-way potential. As director of college scouting, Karangwa was likely responsible for gathering information, scouting reports, and possibly setting the organization’s draft board. With Karangwa as the VP of player personnel, if the Magic’s recent draft selections is any indication, then the Sixers organization will likely seek to target long, defensive minded, athlete type of players in future drafts.
What this all means
The Sixers have added 3 astute basketball minds to the organization. Elton Brand has done what he set out to do, as far as the front office is concerned. And along with this, Doc Rivers is building a nice staff behind him. There may still be more moves on the way as this busy offseason is truly beginning to get under way.
Follow the Blitz on Twitter!