Column: The Brad Stevens effect

Boston Celtics head coach Brad Stevens calls to his players during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game against the Toronto Raptors in Boston, Wednesday, March 23, 2016. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

Boston Celtics head coach Brad Stevens has proven himself as one of the premier coaches in the NBA in only three seasons. The Celtics are sitting in third place in the Eastern Conference, fresh off a 109-106 victory over the Golden State Warriors.

Stevens has come a long way in the three seasons he has spent in Boston. His second season (40-42) finished with a playoff birth and a 15 game improvement from his first season (25-57).

The Celtics (45-32) are currently tied for third place in the Eastern Conference. They are a young, dangerous team that plays hard on every single play. Their best player, Isaiah Thomas, is a 5’9’’ untraditional point guard. The second round pick out of Washington is averaging nearly 22 points and six assists per game.

Stevens has done a beautiful job creating a system that gets not only Thomas, but ever other player involved. One of Boston’s biggest strengths is that they are well balanced. They have seven players that average double figures. 

The Celtics are a top-ten team in almost every major team category. They are fifth in points per game (105 ppg.), sixth in rebounds (45.2 rpg.) and sixth in assists per game (24.1 apg.).

The Celtics are underrated and dangerous. They ended the Warriors’ 54 game home winning streak on Friday April 1. It was a very harsh April Fools joke for Warrior fans. The Celtics became the only team in the league to beat the defending NBA Champions on their home floor this year. The most important takeaway from the game was that it was not a fluke. It took a double overtime effort and 38 points from Stephen Curry for the Warriors to beat the Celtics in Boston back in December. 

"I don’t know where we got it from, but tonight we showed what Brad's been trying to tell us the whole year about," said Isaiah Thomas, according to the Boston Herald’s Steve Bulpett. "No matter what happens throughout the game, stay poised, stay confident and just continue to control what you can control.”

The Celtics are no longer in the rebuilding process. In just three years, Stevens has Boston back in the hunt.

San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich, arguably the best coach in the NBA, told Fansided’s Jeremy Karll he had all the respect in the world for Stevens.    

“I really respect what he does,” Popovich said. “I’ll still watch his Butler tape, trying to learn some stuff he did there, to be honest with you. I really respect the hell out of him. He’s a really fine young coach, great demeanor. His team executes really well, and they’re just going to keep getting better. So I enjoy him.”

Stevens is a strong candidate for coach of the year. There is not a team in the league that has overachieved as much as the Celtics. Stevens has done so much with so little. Thomas was the lone All-Star on the Celtics this year.

It would be a real shame if Steve Kerr won Coach of the Year. He missed the first 43 games of the season. He does not deserve it. Kerr inherited a team full of superstars. Stevens came into a system that was in complete reconstruction and he has them five games away from a 50-win season.


Eddie Leonard is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at edward.leonard_iii@uconn.edu. He tweets @EddieLeonard23.