As the Celtics claw their way every night to stay in the playoff race, they do it with a cast of characters who Brad Stevens is working his magic with. Quick, name one of the C's starters you think could start or even crack the rotation on a team like San Antonio?
This alone is why Stevens needs to get strong consideration for Coach of the Year honors.
Now, let's face it, he isn't going to win the award. Not when the Celts, who are currently 30-37, are battling to make the bottom of the playoffs in the terrible Eastern Conference. The award will most likely come down to Golden State's Steve Kerr, Atlanta's Mike Budenholzer, Memphis' Dave Joerger, or Milwaukee's Jason Kidd.
Could any of those coaches be on the brink of the playoffs coaching the Celtics? The truth is, Stevens is the Celts MVP.
Stevens should finish in the top-5 in COY voting. No coach has done more with less. Kerr has Steph Curry, Budenholzer has four all-stars, Joerger coaches an MVP candidate in Marc Gasol, while Kidd trots out the Greek Freak, Giannis Antetokounmpo.
And Stevens? He has castaways like Evan Turner providing solid play, despite the fact it looks like he's dribbling in slow motion. Stevens is getting the most out of Tyler Zeller who was traded to Boston for the equivalent of a bag of balls.
Not many fans knew the name Jae Crowder, but Stevens has helped him out so much, to the point where you have to believe the Celts will think of keeping the forward, who is a free-agent this off-season.
Stevens' preaches ball movement on offense, and the Celts are following their leaders' orders. After ranking 22nd in the NBA in assists last year, the current core of Celtics rank 4th overall with 24.4 per game, per the NBA.com/stats database. To put that number in perspective, you have to go back to the '91-'92 season to find a C's squad that averaged more dimes per contest (according to basketball reference).
They have also cut their turnovers down from 15.4 per game in '13-'14 to 13.9 this season. That number may not seem like a big difference but cutting down their giveaways by just 1.5 has given the team nearly five more field goal attempts per game (according to basketball reference).
The Celts also rank 12th in the league (100.7) scoring the basketball. Last season Stevens' crew were just 26th overall (96.2) in the same offensive category. The most remarkable thing about that stat is the fact that the C's leading scorer, Isaiah Thomas (16.3 ppg), has only played 10 games as a Celtic.
Stevens also lost arguably his two best players, Rajon Rondo and Jeff Green, through trades, yet the team continues to battle. The Celts are 10-4 in their last 14 games and have looked like a group that reflects their coaches yearning for team basketball, and the ideal that the C's need the next man up to step it up. Stevens has also dealt with key injuries to Jarred Sullinger and Thomas, yet the Celts don't skip a beat.
So let's face it, Stevens won't win the COY award this season...but don't be surprised if he has the hardware very soon.
AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki Rob Welch 3/19/2015 12:37:00 PM Tweet Edit