Saturday, November 16, 2013

0 comments So Apparently Bleacher Report Thinks the Celtics are Better Off with Brad Stevens Than with Doc Rivers

When I'm sad, I can always count on Bleacher Report to pick me up. There's no denying Bleacher Report has started to assemble a good roster of columnists for every sport, but it's just dressing for what lies beneath. You can dress a whore up like a princess for the night, but don't be surprised if she steals a $100 to put in her glass slipper on her way out the door. So the seedy underbelly of Bleacher Report still reveals the dregs of unpaid writers just trying to get their name out there by writing something that gains as much attention as possible. So Bleacher Report has an article up about how the Celtics are better off with Brad Stevens (he of zero NBA coaching victories) than Doc Rivers (he of one NBA title and two NBA Finals appearances), and you won't believe this, there is a slideshow that accompanies the six reasons why Stevens' presence means the Celtics are better off. There are six reasons, but of course there are eight slides in this story. As always, the 8th slide is really the next slideshow. This is just one of the little underhanded things Bleacher Report does to annoy me.

When Celtics president Danny Ainge released news of the hire this past Independence Day, it turned a lot of heads.

Many had to put down their hot dogs, climb out of the pool or pause Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum's world-saving mission 

In reading this author's biography it says he performs "sporadic" stand-up comedy. After reading this introduction, I'm assuming the "sporadic" part refers to the actual amount of comedy found in his stand-up routine.

to find out if Brad Stevens was indeed that young-looking guy who took a school they'd never heard of to two NCAA championship games.

This is as opposed to the other Brad Stevens that no one has heard of and happens to be a basketball head coach.

At first, it was equally surprising when news officially broke that Doc Rivers was the new Los Angeles Clippers head coach. However, that saga went on for some time before a move was finally made.

"It was very surprising that Doc Rivers was the Los Angeles Clippers head coach, but it took some time for him to actually become the Clippers head coach, so it wasn't really that surprising when news broke Rivers was the Clippers head coach."

Now, Boston has a new leader for the first time since 2004. The team may not be successful next season, but Stevens will be judged on so much more than that in year one.

Yeah, Stevens isn't going to be judged on those pesky wins and losses like Doc Rivers so strongly insisted the Celtics be judged on. Counting wins and losses is for losers. Also, later in this slideshow the author argues the Boston media wasn't hard enough on Doc Rivers, then he seems to indicate the Boston media will be even less hard on Brad Stevens and this is a good thing. I can't figure it out either.

Let's start the slideshow!

Stevens Wants to Be in Boston

It's the Bill Simmons argument about how Doc Rivers didn't even want to be in Boston anymore. It's true, but I think this reason comes more from a place of hurt at the Celtics getting rejected by a head coach (you don't do that to the Celtics!) more than anything else. It's sort of the idea that Rivers hurt their feelings, so they don't want him anyway.

Quite simply, there was no one forcing him out. He took some time for himself and his family and realized what he wanted out of the next few years wasn't going to be found in Celtics green. While there is certainly nothing wrong with that on a professional or personal level, Rivers made the choice to move on.

Couldn't there be an article written by a Butler Bulldogs fan saying their team will be better off without Brad Stevens because he didn't want to be at Butler anymore and made the choice to move on? Sure, and the factual nature of Stevens not being at Butler anymore doesn't mean the school is better off with a coach that wants to be there.

Brad Stevens is a different animal entirely. The new head coach, 15 years Rivers' junior, is grateful for the opportunity to just be at the NBA level. He views Boston as a gift, while Doc clearly saw the upcoming season as a chore.

Yes, your feelings got hurt that Rivers didn't want to be in Boston anymore. It doesn't mean the Celtics are better off with Stevens over Rivers. It may mean the Celtics are better off with a new head coach over keeping Rivers, but Stevens eagerness to coach at the NBA-level doesn't mean he is a better option than Rivers.

To illustrate that, Stevens has moved his entire family to a home in Massachusetts. Even though he coached in Boston for nine years, Rivers still maintained his official address in Florida.


Stevens Is Willing and Able to Coach Young Players

Generation gaps can be a difficult thing to cross, particularly in a sport like basketball, where so much praise is heaped onto individual players.

Rivers is old and crotchety, while Stevens is young and hip. I remember when this reasoning was used for why Raheem Morris was going to make a great NFL head coach.

Doc Rivers was occasionally knocked for not giving his youth enough real time to improve and grow as players. Last season's roster featured only three players who could be considered home-grown from Rivers' time: Rajon Rondo, Avery Bradley and Jared Sullinger.

To be fair, when your lineup includes three Hall of Fame players it is hard to find big minutes for young guys coming off the bench. Still, Rivers found room for young players to play good minutes when he coached the Celtics. It didn't make sense with the roster the Celtics had for most of Rivers' tenure to put young guys on the court for 30+ minutes  though.

2004-2005: Four players aged 20-23 years old played between 13-16 minutes per game.

2005-2006: Delonte West (22 years old) played 34 minutes per game and six players aged 21-24 played between 15-22 minutes per game.

2006-2007: Al Jefferson (22), Delonte West (23), Ryan Gomes (24) all played between 31-33 minutes per game. Rondo (20) played 23.5 minutes per game, Gerald Green (21) played 22 minutes per game, and Kendrick Perkins (22)/Sebastian Talfair (21) played 22 and 20 minutes per game respectively.

2007-2008 (the year the Celtics added three Hall of Famers): Rondo (21) played 29.9 minutes per game, Perkins (23) played 24.5 minutes per game and Leon Powe (24)/Glen Davis (22) played 14 and 13 minutes per game respectively.

2008-2009: Perkins (24) played 29 minutes per game, Davis (23) played 21 minutes per game and Rondo (22) played 33 minutes per game.

2009-2010: Rondo (23) led the team in minutes played per game, while Glen Davis (24) played 17 minutes per game.

2010-2011: Rondo (24) again led the team in minutes played and Jeff Green (24) played 23 minutes per game. You can see Rivers stopped playing young guys because there were no young guys on the roster. Luke Harangody was the second-youngest on the roster at 23 years old. There's no point in playing young guys at the expense of a team winning games.

2011-2012: Avery Bradley (21) played 21 minutes per game. Danny Ainge acquired veteran players to fill out his bench, so it made it difficult to play young guys that weren't on the roster.

2012-2013: Avery Bradley (22) played 28 minutes per game, Jordan Crawford (24) and Jared Sullinger (20) played 19 minutes per game.

Still, none of those three played more than 50 games. Bradley saw 28.7 minutes a night, while Sullinger played 19.8 on average.

What an incredibly misleading statement. Of course neither Rondo, Bradley, or Sullinger played more than 50 games. Rondo and Sullinger missed a lot of the second half of the season with season-ending injuries and Bradley didn't play his first game until January 2. Don't mislead your audience and make them think Doc Rivers refused to play these young guys when it was really injuries that caused them to miss a lot of season.

Those numbers, along with those of Kelly Olynyk, Vitor Faverani, MarShon Brooks and probably Phil Pressey, are going to go way up this coming year and beyond. 

The only reason these young guys will get major minutes is because the Celtics team as a whole is not very good. There's a difference in playing young guys who are good and playing young guys because it's all you have.

Where Rivers may have been stubborn in using mediocre veterans to try and win now, Stevens has a better grasp on young players and will hopefully utilize them better and give them a chance to grow.

Because we all know Avery Bradley, Glen Davis, Kendrick Perkins, and Rajon Rondo were not given time to grow with the Celtics. That's why Perkins and Davis have been so stellar since leaving Boston and Rondo/Bradley haven't been quality NBA players.

Open-Minded to New Basketball Ideas

However, recently there were a few stories about how Stevens is much more than that. According to the Boston Herald, the new Boston Celtics head coach does rely heavily on the eye test as well.

This is as opposed to Doc Rivers, who used to coach entire games with his eyes closed.

He does embrace the increasingly valuable analytics, as illustrated by bringing stat-man Drew Cannon on board from Butler to Boston. However, Stevens isn't rejecting old-school thought about the game.

He uses numbers AND the eye test. A revolutionary way of thinking for a town crucial to winning the Revolutionary War.

Doc Rivers learned to think one way over 13-plus years as an NBA head coach and another 13 as a player. Stevens can be more accepting of both worlds, which better suits the Celtics needs right now.

Okay, great. I'm not going to argue a different perspective is a bad thing, but it's known that Doc Rivers can coach NBA players and we haven't seen that yet from Brad Stevens. I think this is an important point.
Stevens Comes at a Discount

And when has "Hey, he's cheaper!" ever been a bad thing?

The move saved them a fair amount of money and garnered another first-round draft pick in 2015.

I like the idea of another first round draft pick, but that draft pick isn't any good if Stevens doesn't show himself to be a competent NBA coach. See, that's the biggest point missing here. The history of college coaches coming to the NBA is horrific and Rivers is a proven NBA coach while Brad Stevens isn't. I would hope Stevens would be cheaper than a coach who has an NBA title.

After sending that salary responsibility to the Los Angeles Clippers, the Celtics made a move to sign Stevens for six years and $22 million. The move will save them around $3.4 million per year, while having a coach locked up for an extra three seasons if he works out.

Or, you know, paying three extra seasons if he doesn't work out. The Celtics could have spent $7 million over the next three years on Rivers or $22 million on Stevens for six years. If Stevens works out then he is a great deal, but if he doesn't work it isn't such a great deal.

For what the Celtics were trying to do this past offseason, paying Rivers that much money seemed to be a stretch.

Because you definitely don't want a proven NBA head coach to be teaching young players. That's just crazy.

Stevens' contract is much more reasonable for the amount of power you want that position wielding.

I'm not even sure what this means. This means Stevens' contract is reasonable because the team won't be very good or it means Stevens won't have as much power in the organization so he shouldn't get paid like he does?

Stevens Has a Better Grasp on the College Game

Great! Unfortunately the Boston Celtics are an NBA team. So..............

As much as money, weather and proximity can help a franchise maintain success through free agency, eventually that team will rely on the college ranks to draft a player capable of occupying an important role.

But they are professional athletes, not college athletes. So while teams will rely on the college ranks in drafting good players, the NBA is not college basketball.

The Miami Heat have won back-to-back championships, and most of that credit will go to the acquisitions of LeBron James, Chris Bosh, Ray Allen and Shane Battier. However, without drafting Dwyane Wade, none of that happens. Miami draftees Mario Chalmers, Norris Cole and Udonis Haslem all played major roles in those wins as well.

Outside of Wade these are all role players. Role players don't win championships. So Stevens' familiarity with the college game doesn't mean he is better able to scout and find NBA talent in the college game.

Doc Rivers didn't have the greatest connection with the college game. He started his coaching career in the NBA, where he had finished his playing career just a few years earlier.

(Shakes head sadly) But it's his job to coach NBA players. He's pretty good at that.

Stevens will also relate better to players who were recently a part of that college atmosphere and are making the difficult transition to the NBA.

How will Brad Stevens relate to NBA players better than ex-NBA player Doc Rivers? How in the hell is this possible? Doc Rivers has coached and played at the NBA level, but Brad Stevens magically has some better connection to get through to NBA players coming from college because he understands their experience better than someone who actually made the transition to the NBA from college? What the fuckity-fuck?

Doc Had Reached Media Saturation

I'm not sure this is a real thing.

It is a good thing to have Doc Rivers as head coach of one's basketball team. He seems to have improved with the years of experience from a coaching standpoint, and you won't find a better person at managing both personalities in his locker room and the media when in front of a microphone and camera.

But the Celtics are better off with a coach who isn't as good at managing personalities in the locker room and the media? Also, I think you can find better coaches than Doc Rivers at managing personalities in the locker room and media. I would submit Phil Jackson has shown himself to be much better than Rivers. That's a different argument for a different day.

His smile is somewhat mesmerizing once you see it enough times. 

I feel like the author is kissing a poster of Doc Rivers right now. 

The media is an entity built on holding a mirror to society. In basketball terms, that means an honest description of how a player or coach is performing. With the Boston and, occasionally, national press, so enamored with Rivers, there was a lack of accountability starting to rear its head.

I know. Someone should have made Rivers more accountable for the seven playoff appearances, two NBA Finals appearances, and 506 wins he had over nine seasons as the Celtics head coach. It was horrifying how he took a rapidly aging Celtics team and continuously made them competitive by winning the Atlantic Division six times.

But, after a while, that air can become polluted with bias.

Someone needed to rip Rivers for existing and not winning an NBA Title every season. Thanks Dan Shaughnessy.

Brad Stevens may wind up being just as friendly and forthcoming with the media as Rivers was, but he'll most certainly be held to a different standard at the outset.

So the author says the Boston media was too easy on Doc Rivers and then states Brad Stevens is going to be held to a different standard. Given the fact the Celtics are rebuilding doesn't this mean the Boston media will go even easier on Stevens? After all, Stevens has less to work with, and if we are working under the assumption Rivers got a pass then won't Stevens get a pass for not immediately turning a Celtics team on a 3-4 year long-range plan around?

Boston fell in love too much with Doc for a while.  He could do no wrong. It is just human nature.

And of course the Celtics are better off with Brad Stevens anyway. He can relate to NBA players better than Rivers could. Also, I love the irony of the author saying Boston fell in love too much with Doc Rivers, while writing a slideshow about how hiring an unproven NBA head coach is better than keeping a head coach who has an NBA Title. Sounds like the author is a bit too much in love with Brad Stevens at this current time.