Would the Boston Celtics have signed Al Horford last summer and then Gordon Hayward this year if Brad Stevens wasn’t their head coach?
And this answer isn’t purposely incendiary. It basically has Danny Ainge’s stamp of approval.
From ESPN.com’s Chris Forsberg:
Armed with little more than a MacBook, Stevens has led a series of basketball-focused presentations aimed at showing these elite players exactly how he plans to maximize their talents. And that, Ainge believes, resonates more than anything else the Celtics can offer.
“It’s from a coach’s perspective, from how he sees this player fitting in. And Brad does it through video, he does it through statistics and analytics, and he shows it on the chalkboard,” Ainge said. “He shows exactly what he’s looking for from that player and how that player can be utilized.
“It’s not fluff. And I think the players see that. It’s not trying to make a case like, ‘You have to come here because of this statistic.’ It’s real stuff. And I think that that’s what players appreciate is that openness.”
This is pretty incredible stuff, and it validates Stevens, while emphasizing the impact a head coach can have on his team.
So many people dilute the NBA game down to raw talent. And that’s part of it. Star power, player fits, team attitude, analytics departments—all of it is important.
But being a head coach in the Association isn’t easy. One misstep early in the process, and you’re fighting for your job. Rub a star player the wrong way, and you’re operating from a position of supreme weakness. It’s a delicate act, one that demands you balance and placate egos while serving as equal parts enforcer, mentor, magician and even scapegoat.
Stevens appears to blend all the best qualities of a head honcho—right down to his Gregg Popovichian play-calling out of timeouts. It makes sense that he would appeal to Horford, Hayward and even Kevin Durant. Players know if they sign with Boston they’ll be working under someone who is prepared to, and capable of, maximizing their skill set. That matters. Especially with free agents who need all the reassurances they can get when switching locales.
I guess that makes Stevens the Celtics best closer.
Sorry, Isaiah Thomas.