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Doc Rivers On Valuing Bench Players

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Doc Rivers (@DocRivers) is the Head Coach for the Milwaukee Bucks and a PCA National Advisory Board Member. He had a stellar playing career with Marquette University and several NBA teams before moving on to coach the Orlando Magic and then the Celtics, whom he led to the 2008 NBA Championship. Rivers is also a prominent sports parent, most notably as father of Austin Rivers, who played at Duke University before joining the New Orleans Pelicans in 2012.

No matter the role on the team, Rivers advises that coaches make each player feel significant and important. Even if a player isn’t starting a game or contributing on the court, they should feel validated for their role. This is especially true for teams with talented rosters. Often the younger players on the team don’t get as much playing time during games and it’s the coach's role to reinforce a culture where these players feel positive about their contributions and continue to work hard.

One way Rivers does this, as he explains in this video clip, is to tell his bench players that the way they push the starters during practice helps the starters develop into better players. Keeping role players mindful of the value of their roles can keep them engaged and contributing, all to the benefit of the team.