Brad Stevens excelled in year 2, can he keep it up?
Can Stevens continue his early success?
There is no denying the fact that Brad Stevens has asserted himself into the national spotlight when it comes to the NBA coaching hierarchy. Stevens has continually been able to draw the best out of his players no matter how much roster turnover or how many trades he has to endure. His after timeout plays have gained their own cult following and he is widely recognized as one of the best young basketball minds in the game.
I mean, when you are getting praise from an all-time player like Lebron James, you've got to be doing something right. Via ESPN's Chris Forsberg in an article following the Celtics' first-round playoff sweep by James and the Cavaliers:
"I highly respect their coaching staff and especially their head coach," James said. "A very well-coached team, he put those guys out there every night and put them in position to win the game and I think Brad Stevens is a very good young coach in our league."
Stevens and James shared a brief moment on the court after Sunday's game. Stevens has maintained that, you can debate the MVP for the 2014-15 season, but he believes that James is the best player in the game. James twice said that Boston is well-coached, including during an on-court postgame interview earlier in the series.
According to a graphic published by Taylor C. Snow of Celtics.com, Stevens had one of the best turnarounds in terms of winning percentage by any coach in the NBA from their first to second year as a head coach.
As impressive as that stat is, you must remember that Stevens did this without any star power being added to his roster. In fact the Celtics traded away his two best players in Rajon Rondo and Jeff Green, only increasing the number of bodies Stevens had to juggle in order to find the right combinations for a winning formula.
Make no doubt about it, the arrival of Isaiah Thomas and Jae Crowder impacted the team's ability to win, but at this point in the rebuild Stevens is the team's best asset.
So what's next for Stevens as he continues to grow as a coach along with his young core group of players? Snow thinks Stevens needs to duplicate the results from last season and lead the C's back into Eastern Conference playoff mix:
Now, the question is, can Stevens further improve the team’s record this coming season? Of the 16 coaches who have headed an NBA team for at least three seasons, only four – Lionel Hollins, Eric Spoelstra, Kevin McHale and Doc Rivers – have increased their winning percentage from their first to their second season, and then again from their second to their third.
Seeing as Stevens has another year of experience under his belt and the organization has gained more assets than it lost during this offseason, he should have a good chance of joining that select company by the end of the 2015-16 season.
What would you consider to be a successful third season for Brad Stevens and the Celtics? Will another playoff appearance cut it or do they need to make more noise?