Boston Celtics’ Brad Stevens: Coach of the Year?


Boston Celtics‘ Head Coach, Brad Stevens, is no stranger to coaching big games. Stevens has been fortunate enough to have a very successful coaching career, though still very young at age 39.

While all the success is there, Stevens knows that coaching in Boston is special and a winning record in the regular season is an afterthought in a city that has hoisted 17 NBA Championships. “You don’t sign up to come to the Boston Celtics to win 42 games,” said Stevens. “We’ve got a long way to go.” His mindset to go along with his improvement each season he has been the coach has Stevens at the top of my list for the NBA Coach of the Year recognition.

After being one of the most successful young coaches that the collegiate game has ever seen, Stevens came to Boston replacing Doc Rivers as head coach of the Boston Celtics for the 2013-2014 season.

Stevens led the Boston Celtics to a 25-57 record in his first year as the coach, finishing 12th in the Eastern Conference and failing to make the playoffs. In his second season, Stevens won 15 more games, finishing 40-42 and having the Boston Celtics back in the playoffs as a seven seed.

With the improvement in his second season, many considered Stevens a candidate for Coach of the Year but he finished fourth behind winner Mike Budenholzer, coach of the Atlanta Hawks, and behind runner ups Steve Kerr, coach for the Golden State Warriors and Jason Kidd, coach for the Milwaukee Bucks.

These three coaches were well deserving and led their teams to very strong seasons. Stevens had a great year, but the 40-42 record hurt his chances even with the improvement.

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I see a lot of similarity between Budenholzer and Stevens. Budenholzer took over for the Atlanta Hawks the same year that Stevens did for the Celtics.

Previously a Spurs assistant under all time great Gregg Popovich, Budenholzer was hired by new Hawks GM and former Spurs junior executive, Danny Ferry.

With the Spurs way being installed in Atlanta, the Hawks went from a 38-44 team in their first year to a 60-22 record in the second year, a 22 game improvement. Both Popovich and Stevens have similar coaching styles, with much emphasis on teamwork, passing and depth. Although Stevens’ big turnaround came in his third season, there are only two coaches who should be considered with him for Coach of the Year.

The other coaches who are competing with Stevens for the award are Portland Trail Blazers Head Coach, Terry Stotts and Detroit Pistons Head Coach, Stan Van Gundy.

The Blazers came into the season losing star forward, LaMarcus Aldridge. They went into the year relying on the star guard Damian Lillard. Portland has surprised this season and a big reason for this is their guard play from Lillard and breakout player of the year candidate C.J McCollum. The Blazers are currently 37-36 and the six seed in the Western Conference.

The Pistons entered the season with high hopes. Reggie Jackson was counted on for a big season as well as star center, Andre Drummond. Both Jackson and Drummond have led this team to a 38-34 record under second-year coach Stan Van Gundy. At the trade deadline, the Pistons acquired Tobias Harris from the Orlando Magic to add to their already strong roster. The Pistons are currently the eight seed in the Eastern Conference.

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The reason Stevens is more deserving of the award than Stotts and Van Gundy is because his roster is purely made up of role players, sans Isaiah Thomas.

Stotts and Van Gundy both have star power on their rosters in Lillard and Drummond. Isaiah Thomas plays like a star because he has bought into this system and has thrived in it.

On most other teams, Thomas would be a third option at best and is the best fit for the sixth man role as he provides a scoring threat off the bench just like Will Barton has done for the Denver Nuggets this season.

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Stevens came into Boston, installed his system, found the pieces that fit that system, and now the results are finally showing. Stevens is undoubtedly the choice for NBA Coach of the Year and giving it to anybody else would be wrong.