Brad Stevens Make a Good Celtics Team Very Dangerous

Rewind to opening night in the NBA. Gordon Hayward had the latest gruesome leg injury and the Cleveland Cavaliers ruined Kyrie Irving’s Celtic debut. With Hayward out for the year, many immediately left the Celtics for dead and were ready to name the Cavs Eastern Conference champions yet again. After that, Boston lost to Milwaukee to drop to 0-2 and it looked like Hayward’s absence would indeed be missed this year.

All Brad Stevens and company did from there was rattle off 12 straight wins and now own the best record in the NBA. And while their opening night opponents are still struggling to find their identity, Boston seems to have theirs figured out. One large reason why is the man on their sidelines.

Say what you want about the top coaches in the NBA. Greg Popovich has been a mad genius for years. Steve Kerr and Golden State have lost just 24 games in two seasons. You can mention Thibodeau, D’Antoni, and Spoelstra. None of them have been as impressive as Brad Stevens has so far this season.

Imagine winning the Eastern Conference last season over the mighty Cavaliers. Then imagine trading your best player, who was the heart and soul of your club. Imagine trading away your defensive specialist on the perimeter. You replace them with two all-stars, but you lose one of them on opening night. You now have one all-star, who grant it is one of the best players in the league, and a back court of young, unproven players. Couple that with a thin front court. That doesn’t sound like a recipe for sbest record in the NBA.

Now I know that is exaggerated to an extent. The cupboard is not empty in Boston. They do have Kyrie Irving, Al Horford and two lottery picks in Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum. It’s not that they are winning that is the impressive part. It’s how they are winning. They come from behind (see their game against Oklahoma City). They win the close game (25% of their wins have been a one possession game). And they’ve even won at less than full strength (Irving and Horford have each missed games).

Brad Stevens has this team competing. He has them playing very balanced and serving their roles. Irving is the team’s leading scorer, but six other players are scoring 10 points plus a game, if you include Marcus Morris’s 12.2 in just five games. Horford leads the team in rebounding, but league sophomore Jaylen Brown chips in almost seven a game. Aron Baynes, the definition of a role player, adds six a game as well. Their assist leader? Marcus Smart. The guy everyone was worried would lose his place on this team. He also adds 1.67 steals per game, second to Kyrie’s 1.92.

Top to bottom Stevens is getting production from their guys on the floor. And the result is win after win. That’s the biggest thing a coach can do in the NBA; Get his team to buy into their roles and play as one, cohesive unit. Not bad for a guy that many thought would flame out after a couple seasons, as most college-to-NBA coaches do.

I’m not crowning the Celtics 2018 NBA Champions three weeks into the season. I’m not saying give Brad Stevens the Coach of the Year award yet either. There is far too much season. The Pistons are legit and the Cavs will be scary come playoff time when they get their point guard healthy. A lot can still happen. But right now it doesn’t seem to matter who Boston throws out on the court. Brad Stevens has them winning.

2017 NBA All-Rookie Teams Announced

The NBA announced its 2017 NBA All-Rookie and All-Defensive Teams today, and for the first time in awhile, I am having a hard time finding holes in their choices. Many times you can look at a list and say “How did (blank) get left off?!” Not here. Let’s take a look at both teams.

First Team:

 

While some of the lottery names may be on the second team, I don’t have any real complaint about anyone who made the first team. I could see Murray and Hield maybe flip flopping, but Hield did edge Murray in points per game and field goal percentage.

Two Sixers in the draft just reminds Philly fans to continue to Trust the Process. I think Joel Embiid convinced everyone he is for real, if he can remain healthy. And Saric was worth the wait. They could see two more first teamers this time next year in Fultz and Simmons.

Malcolm Brogdon had a solid season for Milwaukee. In typical Virginia Cavalier fashion, he averaged 10 points, 4 assists and a steal per game.

Willy Henangomez may surprise some here, but for sad Knicks fans like myself, he was a lone bright spot this season. Hernangomez averaged 8 points and 7 rebounds in just 18 minutes of play per game. He was an efficient finisher and showed his potential as a rookie.

Second Team: 

This list is not too surprising either. 4 of the 5 players were Top 10 picks in this past draft. The biggest surprise is Yogi Ferrell, who after being cut by the Nets after a 10 day contract, was signed by Dallas and averaged 10 points per game. His season high was 32 in a win versus Portland.

Ingram showed enough potential in LA for the Lakers to make him off limits in any trade for Paul George. In his first year, Ingram averaged 9 points, 4 rebounds and 2 assists, showing his ability to stuff the stat sheet.

After having two lottery picks last season, it was Marquese Chriss who shined most for Phoenix last season as a rookie. Chriss saw action in all 82 games and was good for 9 points in 21 minutes per game. He is clearly a part of the young nucleus forming in Phoenix.

Jamal Murray could very well make his case for a First Team selection. He took his elite shot to Denver and was good for 33% from deep last year. He scored 15+ in 18 games this season, including 8 games of 20 or more. He no doubt looks like a high level scorer in this league.

Jaylen Brown’s numbers don’t jump off the page, but playing for the East’s best regular season team, he was able to contribute in his freshman campaign. Brown averaged a modest 6.6 points per game, but showed the ability to score in bunches on the veteran led Celtics club.

Almost all the NBA awards have been announced, just a few more before we can wipe the slate clean and put the season to bed completely. Have any thoughts on these All-Rookie Teams? Feel like someone got left off? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section.