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One of the biggest storylines of Celtics camp is the Brad Stevens era getting underway. Stevens is replacing Doc Rivers, who many consider the 2nd best coach in the NBA, and who just led the Celtics to seven playoff appearances in his nine seasons.

Therefore, it's going to be a constant theme to compare the current Celtics coach with his predecessor. Today, Brandon Bass was asked the biggest difference between the two, and here's what he had to say (via Baxter Holmes).


Knowing how nice of a guy Bass is, this was almost definitely meant to be a compliment towards Stevens, and not a dig at Doc. But Bass is just the latest guy to laud Stevens' attention to detail. This summer, Sports Illustrated had a feature on Stevens that talked about his approach to the game. An approach rooted in study. Here's a passage on Stevens breaking down some defensive film.

Now that laptop is open, and Stevens is running one of the three software programs that most pro and major-college teams use for scouting, while explaining how he studies a game between two of the NBA's better squads. (He asked that neither the teams nor the players be identified in this story.) Green letters in the lower corner of the screen specify the action Stevens is breaking down: SIDE PNR VS. SMALLS (side pick-and-roll plays against guards and small forwards). Stevens narrates the action, succinctly summarizing various sets, options and movements by the defense. "Right here," says Stevens, pausing the video, "I'm watching how [Team A] defends [Team B's] different actions. Already there are three actions: [Player 1] sets a down screen for [Player 2], [Player 3] goes off a fake handoff, and there's a stagger for [Player 4] down here. What is [Team A] doing to defend this? Do you go under the down screen? Do you leave [Player 4] open when he's a very good shooter? You've got all these issues. It's a [defensive] system, and I think I've got a pretty good feel for what their system looks like." Here Stevens pauses, giving weight to the next sentence. "That doesn't mean it's easy to play against," he says. "Because it's not."

After a few more movements on the screen, Stevens closes the program and pulls up an Excel document, into which he has typed notes on every possession of another game involving a team that Boston will face early this season. The notations are copious, in a dense hoop-centric shorthand. One might reference the options off an offensive set, another might describe a particular player's movements in a very specific scenario. Upon coming to the NBA to work, Stevens called a friend and told him that the amount of available information about the professional game was astonishing—there just aren't enough hours or days to study it. "I've learned a lot, and I've got a lot more to learn," says Stevens. "It's almost a little overwhelming with the amount of information to process in a short amount of time. I'm working every day to get myself up to speed."

Listening to Stevens talk in the article you can't help but get excited. And obviously Bass is now in the same boat. Sometimes it can be difficult for a guy that didn't play NBA basketball to gain the respect of a team full of NBA players. But the way around that is to be so smart, so knowledgable of the game, that the players themselves buy in to your thinking.

Stevens is that intelligent, and he works so hard that he is undoubtedly making an impression on his players.

Here's more proof of that, from Kris Humphries (via Jay King).



As King alluded to, hearing Humphries say that Stevens pays more attention to detail than anyone is high praise considering the sheer number of coaches he has had over the years.

The full list:

Jerry Sloan
Sam Mitchell
Jay Triano
Rick Carlisle
Lawrence Frank
Tom Barisse
Kiki Vandeweghe
Avery Johnson
P.J. Carlesimo

Ok, so Humphries has had some not-so-great head coaches along the way. But more detail oriented than Sloan, Carlisle, Johnson, Carlesimo and Frank? High praise.

Stevens attention to detail is likely to infiltrate every level of the Celtics organization. From film study, to practice, to games and player development. It's the kind of thing that separates good coaches from great coaches, and it's what allowed him to bring Butler to back-to-back National Championship games in 2010 and 2011.

It's also what impressed Danny Ainge enough to give him a six-year contract, this despite the fact that he has never coached in the NBA before. And on Monday, when Ainge was asked his first impressions of Stevens, it's why he said, "I'd like to give him a two-year contract extension".

h/t Jay King and Baxter Holmes for tweets

Photo courtesy Associated Press

Follow Mike on twitter - Mike_Dyer13

For more of my articles, click here

Michael Dyer 10/02/2013 02:14:00 PM Edit
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