WALTHAM, Mass. — From the outside looking in, Brad Stevens has not been much of a presence around the Boston Celtics’ practice facility this week. Once the doors are closed, though, Stevens is right in the thick of the action.
Stevens led both groups of players through their draft workouts at the Celtics’ practice facility Monday and Tuesday, and is expected to do the same throughout the pre-draft process. Despite being active in closed workouts, Stevens has made himself scarce before reporters or cameras are allowed in.
Yet getting instruction from an NBA coach, albeit one who just wrapped up his rookie season, has been a particular thrill for the hopeful draftees.
“I thought it was pretty awesome he was out here with us, working us out and putting us through the drills,” UConn forward DeAndre Daniels said. “It was fun to see him out here with the guys.”
The players’ reactions gives the impression that it is rare for the head coach to take such an active role in the workouts. Stevens hasn’t just watched from the sidelines, according to the players. He actually guides them through drills and provides some on-court feedback during the 90-minute workouts.
It makes sense that the Celtics would make Stevens so involved in their draft analysis, since not so long ago he was recruiting or coaching against many of the players the front office is now evaluating.
“He has had a previous relationship with a number of the guys we interviewed in Chicago (at the combine) and have had in for workouts, on the recruiting trail or coaching against them in college,” Celtics director of player personnel Austin Ainge said. “Yeah, I think that does help. We’re certainly asking for his insight and knowledge.”
A couple of the players laughed when it was noted that if they were drafted by the Celtics, their NBA coach would be younger than their college coaches. Clemson’s K.J. McDaniels joked about the possibility of going from playing under 45-year-old Brad Brownell to the 37-year-old Stevens.
“He coached in the NCAAs not too long ago, so I feel like, coming in here, I would learn a lot from him,” McDaniels said, then added with a smile, “I’d probably teach him a few things, too. He’s still a young coach, but he’s a great coach, seems like a great guy off the court and also on the court.”