It isn’t really that hard to like Brad Stevens. After a successful career at Butler University the jolly-looking 36-year-old has entered into the NBA through the new, though not improved Boston Celtics. Since arriving, Stevens has been nothing short of a class act. Danny Ainge inked him for six years and can’t seem to finish saying nice things about him. Allegedly, he and Rajon Rondo are “best friends” and are looking forward to working together to make the Celtics great once again.
Fans like him now, and why shouldn’t they? Stevens is clearly a nice guy who has already received some good reviews from Celtics brass and players. However, as the saying goes: “At the beginning of the season, everyone is undefeated.” Expect that to change once game one of 82 rolls around. Right off the bat, the Celtics are going to lose. A lot. I expect much criticism will be directed at Coach Stevens.
Very often in the NBA, coaches are given too much slack. Mike D’Antoni managed to keep his job with the Los Angeles Lakers roughly a thousand times longer than anyone expected. I’m surprised Rick Pitino managed to stay with the Celtics as long as he did before resigning himself.
By no means am I suggesting Celtics fans should just blindly love Stevens no matter what happens. If Boston goes 12-70 on the season, it will be time to stop giving Stevens the benefit of the doubt. Or any benefits, such as a job.
However, should the Celtics miss the playoffs, the finger should not be pointed at Stevens. Coaches often make for popular scapegoats, and sometimes for good reason. What we must remember is that even when playing as a cohesive unit, the Celtics still might be disgusting to watch.
We must be careful what standard is used to measure Stevens’ success. If the players are disgruntled, there isn’t anything remotely resembling defense, and Rondo is basically carrying the team every night, there is a problem.
But if the Celtics are moving the ball well, winning a few games and there and get together something resembling a solid defensive unit but are still under .500, I don’t think it’s time for a coaching overhaul.
The Stevens era in Boston won’t be pretty as soon as the season starts. But with time and the ability to see success in something that transcends a record, fans will come to realize Coach Stevens should be the man for the job.
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