Last night it was rumored that Dave Joerger had emerged as a candidate to join Doc Rivers coaching staff, and today that move became official, with Joerger presumably becoming the top assistant in Philly. Throughout his coaching career Doc has always had the luxury of high-level, well-paid assistants on his bench, and that clearly isn’t about to change here at his fourth stop.
Joerger is a well-regarded basketball mind, and is considered, “one of the best X and O’s coaches in the league,” according the Chris Haynes of Yahoo sports. As a head coach in Memphis and Sacramento he ran into trouble with regard to his minutes distribution, rotations, and overall poor relationship with the front office, but fortunately those are areas that he won’t be concerned with as an assistant.
While it would be reductive to pigeon-hole Joerger as a defense-first coach—his overall basketball acumen is strong—it’s fair to assume he’ll be the defensive coordinator on Rivers’ staff. Defense is the strongest mark on Joerger’s resume, and we know his pack-line/help defense philosophy fits well with how we know Rivers has schemed his championship defenses of the past. One look at the Sixers personnel (Embiid) and it’s easy to assume Joerger was brought in specifically to engineer what could easily be the best defense in the NBA.
Long before Joerger entered the pro ranks he was an accomplished D-league coach with a penchant for developing young talent, and the hope is that he’ll be able to tap into those roots more in this role than he would as head coach. Prior to accepting this position he was being considered for the Pacers head coaching job, but was ultimately denied a third opportunity to lead his own team. While the jury may be out on Joerger’s competence as the top man on a bench, there should be no doubt that he’s a real asset as an assistant.
This is likely just be the tip of the iceberg of top assistants joining Rivers’ staff, with two more spots on the bench to be filled in the coming days and weeks. A new era of basketball is clearly upon us in Philly.