More evidence that Brad Stevens is a new breed of coach: Celtics tracking "hockey assists" in practice
One of the main reasons I suspect the Celtics may surprise a lot of people this year is the innovative ideas and techniques of Brad Stevens. Here's just one example, as reported by ESPN Boston's Chris Forsberg. Stevens has assigned 23 year old stat guru assistant coach Drew Cannon to keep track of "hockey assists" in practice; the pass before the pass that leads to a basket.
"I’ve tracked it before in my career because I’ve coached for a lot of teams that didn’t have what you would consider to be a pure point guard," Stevens said. "And I think it is important when you’re trying to emphasize the extra pass, and you’re only focused on assists, then you’re not giving any credit to the guy who created the play. So we do track that [and] we will start tracking it more."
Considering the fact that for the time being the Celtics will primarily be using ball handlers who aren't actually point guards, this seems like a very useful tool. Below is Avery Bradley's take on the matter:
"It’s not always a home run pass, sometimes you make a pass to set up the score. So that’s how I think of it because I can’t make the passes Rondo can make. So I just try to make the simple pass so it can lead to a bucket."
And from Kelly Olynyk, who notched 5 actual assists of his own Monday, quite impressive for a PF/C playing just 19 minutes:
"That’s just team basketball, that's basically what it is. A lot of people say a lot of stuff goes uncharted and un-stat-ed, but that’s the little stuff that makes a team win."
One of the main benefits of the "hockey assist" in basketball is it's propensity to lead to wide open three point attempts when moving the ball around the perimeter. Boston's opponent tonight, the Knicks, made a killing doing this last season. And while the C's don't have a lot of traditional long range threats, many of their likely rotation players (Bradley, Lee, Green, Wallace, and Olynyk could even be an all-shooter lineup) are more than capable of regularly knocking down the corner three.