In the NBA, teams have to keep the stars happy. For the Philadelphia 76ers, they currently cater to the two young All-Stars, Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. Last year, the Sixers' front office failed to build around the two stars, and the former head coach, Brett Brown, seemingly lost their attention.
After a first-round playoff exit, the Sixers moved on from Brown after seven seasons. During the search process for the next guy, 76ers General Manager Elton Brand consulted with the two young stars to find out who they would both be most comfortable with. Eventually, the Sixers ended up with Doc Rivers.
So far, the Sixers' two young stars are satisfied with the move. Although Rivers has only been coaching the team since training camp started back on December 1, Simmons and Embiid have had nothing but great things to say about the veteran leader.
On Saturday night, as the Sixers picked up their second win of the season against the Knicks, Embiid and Simmons both talked up their new head coach so far as they described what playing for Rivers is like.
"He's vocal [and] everybody listens," said Sixers center Joel Embiid. "He's a good coach, even when it comes to X's and O's, and the plays he's been drawing. We took a little bit of stuff from last year, but the stuff that he's been drawing at timeouts has been working so far. I mean, he's been great."
Embiid is already thriving in Rivers' system. In just two games this season, Philly's big man has averaged 28 points in 32 minutes of action. While Embiid's conditioning this season, along with newfound spacing, deserves a lot of credit for his success so far, Embiid also bought into Rivers' system, which is allowing him to thrive.
"He believes in us, he believes in everybody's ability," Simmons said in regards to Rivers after the veteran head coach picked up his 945th career victory on Saturday. "He's not going to lie to you and tell you to do things that you can't do. He tells me certain things like tonight; an example would be: 'be assertive, be aggressive, attack the rim.' And when I'm doing that, he's giving me praise and letting me know I'm doing a good job."
While it sounds like Rivers is just catering to his stars like any NBA head coach typically would, Simmons made it clear he's not just playing nice to satisfy the stars' needs. When it's time to be blunt, Simmons claims Rivers has the ability to flip the switch and tells players what they don't want to hear -- but what they need to hear.
"On the other side, he's gonna keep it real with you," Simmons continued. "If there are things you need to work on, things that [he sees] out there that you don't see, he'll let you know. That's all about just getting better -- helping each other get better. He's doing that with everybody, which is great."
Rivers has only coached the Sixers for two games, so a lot can change over time. However, you can't predict the future and the present is all that matters. As long as Rivers remains the way he's been so far, it sounds like he'll be on the right page with his two young All-Stars as they seem to be very fond of their coach.
Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him on Twitter: @JGrasso_