Is Giannis Antetokounmpo the best player Doc Rivers has coached? Analyzing options

Milwaukee Bucks v Los Angeles Lakers
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Rivers and his time in Boston

Paul Pierce

The 2007-08 championship run that Rivers enjoyed with the Celtics brings us our next two guys on the list. Paul Pierce is an NBA Hall-of-Famer who averaged 19.7 per game in his career. The 10-time NBA All-Star is also a member of the NBA 75th Anniversary Team.

Pierce had this to say recently on the "Draymond Green Show" about Rivers:

"I will tell you one thing: Doc is a great motivator, man. I'm telling you. He knows each individual and how to coach each individual... Players gotta respect your coach. I think they respect Doc. I'm not sure how much they respected Adrian Griffin."

Paul Pierce was the NBA Finals MVP in the Celtics Championship run in 2007-08. Those memories alone have Pierce on this list of the greatest players Rivers has ever coached.

Kevin Garnett

The 15-time NBA All-Star had a magnificent career in both Minnesota, Boston and Brooklyn. Garnett is about as accomplished as they come. A 15-time NBA All-Star, Garnett was the fifth overall pick in the 1995 NBA Draft. (That year, with the 11th overall pick, the Bucks selected Gary Trent). Garnett played a total of 21 NBA seasons.

Garnett was a key cog in the lone Doc Rivers championship season: 2007-2008. That season, Garnett was an All-Star and third overall in the NBA MVP voting.

When Rivers coached Garnett in 2007-2008, he averaged just under 19 points, nine rebounds and five assists. That is slightly above his career averages.

Players can also make the coach

Doc Rivers is an accomplished NBA coach. He played professionally in the league, playing in 864 career games. He played for Atlanta, the Clippers, the Knicks and the Spurs, and over his 13-year playing career, averaged close to 11 points a game (10.9). He is the definition of an NBA player's coach.

It is to that end that it seems like he would be better at coaching guards because that was his position in the NBA.

Is that why Rivers just could not make it truly work in the 2023-2024 NBA playoffs with Giannis and Damian Lillard? Along with Giannis not being able to play, can Rivers ever make it work with Giannis? Time will tell.

For the purposes of our leading question, the vote for "who is the best player Doc Rivers ever coached" will have to fall squarely on Bucks-killer Kawhi Leonard. Until Giannis and Rivers can put together a run longer than just a first-round playoff exit, Kawhi wins out here.

With two NBA championships to his name, Kawhi Leonard is the best player Rivers has yet to coach.