Did Doc Rivers actually ruin Ben Simmons or is Scottie Pippen off base?
It’s been a tough week for 76ers head coach Doc Rivers following his teams loss to the Atlanta Hawks in the playoffs. Immediately following the Game 7 loss, former NBA star Josh Smith went after Rivers. Smith criticized Rivers’ for once again failing to move on in the playoffs in a social media tirade.
In an interview with GQ, former Bulls star Scottie Pippen thinks Rivers set Ben Simmons up for failure.
— Scottie Pippen (@ScottiePippen) June 25, 2021
“I watched a lot of games that Doc [Rivers] shouldn’t have had him in, in the fourth quarter,” said Pippen. “If I give you a deck of cards and I give you a deuce of heart and a deuce of diamond, and we playing Spades, why you keep grabbing those cards when you know you’re gonna lose in that category? This kid been this way the whole time and Doc brought him in and set him up for failure.”
Pippen would also add, “He been like this! And you guys know he been like this. And Doc kept putting him in the game, he kept letting that team do fouls on him. Take him out the game! The Lakers did it with Shaq, and he’s bigger and more dominant and probably more fearless than Ben Simmons. Doc made him be a failure.”
Doc Rivers has a Plan to Fix Ben Simmons
The 76ers 24-year-old superstar is coming off a disastrous playoff series against the Hawks. Simmons was a complete non-factor during the fourth quarter Game 7 loss as he didn’t attempt a shot. He would only score five points on 2-for-4 shooting for the entire game.
Following the game, Rivers said that he can fix Simmons but is unsure he could lead a championship team.
“I’m very bullish on Ben still,” Rivers said Monday. “But there’s work. There is. And Ben will be willing to do it, and that’s the key. Sometimes you have to go through stuff to see it, and to be honest with it.”
“I know exactly what we want to do,” said Rivers.
Simmons has to become a better free throw shooter, he only shot 34.2% from the line. That is the lowest percentage in a single playoff in NBA history. “I think some of the stuff is obvious,” Rivers said. “We’re not hiding that Ben has to become a better free-throw shooter, and a more confident free-throw shooter.”
The world hasn’t heard much from Pippen since the ESPN Last Dance documentary series back in 2020. The Hall of Fame swingman saying Rivers made Simmons a failure is a powerful claim within the NBA circles.
Simmons is a good basketball player and could be traded this offseason. Pippen thinks Simmons is a great player but ultimately thinks the young star needs to improve his shooting.
Despite the criticism for Rivers, he is a championship winning head coach. The 76ers could trade Simmons but they won’t just give up on the former No.1 overall pick.
Simmons is 24 and has a lot of talent, but it feels like Rivers comments are more lip service and the 76ers front office will move him. Either way, it’s been a tough week for Rivers, another loss in the playoffs, Smith and Pippen come out with harsh and critical words for him.
Trust the process, right?
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– Chris Henrique (@ChrisHenrique on Twitter)
Feature image courtesy of the BostonGlobe.com