WALTHAM, Mass. — Brad Stevens was, for all intents and purposes, an NBA rookie when he entered training camp with the Boston Celtics last fall. Coaching at the professional level was brand new to him after spending his entire career in the college ranks, and he was deliberate in installing his system upon arriving his Boston — too deliberate, he now says.
“I thought I was too gradual last year,” Stevens said Tuesday after the Celtics’ first training camp practice of the season, “so we’re going to be a lot quicker in that. But at the same time, at the appropriate time after a couple of days, we’ll stop, and we’ll hopefully break it down.”
The second-year head coach is implementing a new game plan this season — he’s mentioned the San Antonio Spurs’ read-and-react offense when describing it — and he’s doing so with a roster is very different that the one that showed up to camp last season.
Of the 19 players practicing in Waltham this week (the 20th member of the roster, point guard Rajon Rondo, is sidelined until November at the earliest after breaking his hand), just nine played a game for the Celtics last season.
“We still have a lot of guys who don’t know each other and a lot of newer guys, but I think there’s not as much of a gap, maybe, in terminology,” Stevens said. “I’ve got a great idea about how fast or how slow I need to go. I’m really, in a lot of ways, trying to throw as much at them as possible in the next three days, and then we’ll break it down after that.”
Replacing Rondo will be Stevens’ biggest challenge, especially with the point guard’s injury occurring so late in the summer. He said Phil Pressey, who saw action in relief of Rondo last season; top draft pick Marcus Smart and recently signed swingman Evan Turner all will spend time running the point during camp.
That’s not a ton of experience at the position, especially considering that Turner hasn’t played significant minutes at point guard since his senior year at Ohio State, but Stevens said transitioning the newcomer will help keep some consistency throughout the rest of the lineup.
“We only have one point guard healthy that has NBA experience, and that’s Phil Pressey, so it’s not a lot of it,” the coach said. “I’m not as worried about (Turner’s transition), because I think people are going to put you in a box for your position. I’m just not going to do that. I’m not going to worry about it. He’s a ball-handler, he can handle, he can make plays, he’s smart. And I think that keeps our other players in the positions where they’re most comfortable.”
Though Stevens said he won’t be “throwing 9,000 things” at his players right away, his message is clear:
Summer’s over. Time to get back to work.
Photo via David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports Images
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