Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here… highlighting the big story line. Because there’s nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump.
“I think any time I turn on an NBA game, I learn a lot. I mean, it’s like going to class every day for me,” [Brad Stevens] said. “I watch the film, and I try to pick a part what they’re doing. And I try to steal stuff that we can use with our team. So right then and there, without even knowing people personally, you’re gaining a great deal from people you’re competing against, just by learning what they do.”
With the additions of Kyrie Irving and Jayson Tatum along with the impressive returns of Jaylen Brown and Al Horford, the Celtics looked poised as ever to compete for the NBA title. Although the goal of championship is omnipresent — especially with the blank banner at the TD Garden — Stevens is primarily focused on the fundamentals at the end of the day.
Boston.com: Stevens Explains the Crux of his Coaching Style
Before Thursday’s win against the Warriors, Brad Stevens spoke with the National Advisory Board at Positive Coaching Alinance, an organization providing resources for coaches at all levels. He discussed his coaching philosophy and details his strategies on working with different personalities during his time with Butler and the NBA.
At Butler, Stevens had a reputation as an analytics-driven coach who always got his team to play high-energy basketball. He was considered more of a tactician than a “players coach.” Since entering the NBA, we’ve learned about Brad’s obsession with the psychology of his players, how he strives to understand their differing motivations. His studious approach to his job, combined with his ability to connect with guys, allows him to maximize the talent of any roster he coaches.
The league was surprised when the Celtics hired Stevens, that they succesfully lured him away from Butler. Historically, college coaches haven’t made seamless transitions to the NBA, and some questioned how players would respond to his coaching style. Soon enough, the league took notice of his ability to get the most out of guys like Jordan Crawford and Evan Turner, and how well he handled one-and-a-half seasons of losing and constant roster turnover.
Today’s players, executives, and coaches have tremendous admiration for Stevens. He held the team together since Gordon Hayward’s injury and the Celtics have unexpectedly won 15 straight games, making him the early front runner for Coach of the Year. Since the victory against Golden State, every NBA podcast or TV show has taken the time to gush over Brad’s leadership and coaching accumen.
With all the talk about Kyrie, Tatum, Danny Ainge, and future draft picks, it’s easy to forget that Brad Stevens is the most important asset in the Celtics organization. He’s overachieved since entering the league, but now he’s overachieving with superior talent, and it’s impossible not to be impressed.
Page 2: Where Jaylen Brown is Making the Leap
Remember, [Jaylen Brown] was a bit of a mystery for many coming off a rookie season which saw Brown average 17.2 minutes and 6.6 points per game. It seemed like a pretty healthy leap of faith to think he would be able to make up for the departed Avery Bradley, who averaged 16.3 points per game a year ago while providing next-level defense.
But that’s exactly where we’ve landed with Brown.
He has provided almost the identical numbers to what Bradley left behind, with one notable difference: Brown is a more versatile defensive player who does a better job creating his own shot. That’s no slight on the former Celtic — who is having his best season yet with Detroit, averaging almost 18 points per game while shooting 45 percent from beyond the 3-point stripe. It’s simply a nod to how far his replacement has come, and how he offers more of what Brad Stevens’ team needs.
WEEI: Brown Becoming a Star
While Brad Stevens has been a media darling for the past few years, Jaylen Brown is now experiencing that treatment, as the NBA world was throroughly impressed with his performance last Thursday against the Warriors.
He’s getting praised heaped from all directions: “flat-out stud,” “unbelievable athlete,” “He’s figured it out so soon,” “Two-Way Force,” “Future all-star.” Boston fans have felt this way about Jaylen since midway through last season, now he’s has the rest of the league on notice.
Not long ago, his draft selection was booed by the TD Garden faithful. Some people said Buddy Hield or Kris Dunn would be a better pick, and everyone was quick to dismiss Brown for his poor shooting stats and lack of feel for the game. Nobody, not even the most diehard Jaylen-supporters in the Celtics organization, thought he’d become this good so soon.
He’s averaging 15.8 points and 6.6 rebounds shooting 45 percent from the field and 40 percent from three. His +15 net rating is second on the team.
But the stats don’t tell the whole story. He’s made tremendous strides as a defender, routinely locking guys down across four positions, and improving with positioning on help defense. Offensively, he’s more confident with his ball-handling, and with all the space he’s working with, it seems like he can get to the rim at will.
He’s been hot over the past four games, averaging 20 points and shooting 55 percent from the field. The Celtics and Jaylen Brown look to continue this hot streak, as they face Dallas tonight at 8:30. Boston is currently at the center of the NBA universe, as everyone wants to see how long this win streak (currently 15 games) will last.
Related- Boston.com: How Jaylen Brown is Making Up for the Loss of Avery Bradley
The Rest of the Links:
Boston Globe: Tatum and Brown Coming of Age
Boston Herald: Marcus Smart Not Defined by His Shot
The Ringer: Al Horford the Monster Behind C’s Defense