SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — Brad Stevens was introduced as the Boston Celtics new coach in early July. The former Butler head coach is making the daring jump, leaving the college ranks for the NBA. In the past, this has not gone well for many great collegiate coaches.
John Calipari lasted three seasons in New Jersey and Rick Pitino, who was successful with the New York Knicks, had a 102-146 record in three-plus seasons with the Boston Celtics. Just a reminder, these are the last two head coaches to win the national championship.
Despite the lack of success from coaches in the past, Pitino believes that Stevens will be able to make the transition as the head coach of Celtics.
“It’s all about your personality,” Pitino said during the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame press conference on Saturday afternoon.
“Brad Stevens is a perfect fit, perfect, couldn’t be more of a perfect fit to go from college to the pros. He runs pro offense. He runs a pro defense.”
Pitino left his post at Providence College for the Knicks opening in 1987. But even before he became the head coach at PC, he was an assistant under Hubie Brown in New York. Serving as an NBA assistant coach was considered a prerequisite to being an NBA head coach in Pitino’s mind. Although, he sees Stevens as an exception to that rule.
“I spent two years with Hubie Brown as an assistant, that prepared me,” Pitino said.
“It’s so foreign. It’s such a foreign game, the pros to college. That is an adjustment that’s difficult to make unless you’ve been there. Brad is one of the few people I think can do it. I think Coach K can do it because of his Olympic experience. But it’s very difficult to do unless you have experience as an assistant.”
Stevens is a great X’s-and-O’s coach. He has also been on the forefront of the advanced statistic movement in the game of basketball, which includes his analytic specialist Drew Cannon. The rise in the in-depth basketball statistics is something that Pitino himself has noticed during the course of the summer.
While speaking with several professional scouts, Pitino was presented with Peyton Siva’s shooting percentages. It was broken down, not by makes or misses, but into segments, indicating what areas on the floor Siva shoots the best from.
“I was a little blown away by that,” Pitino said.
“The Oklahoma City Thunder, as well as seven, eight other teams in the NBA have adopted the version of baseball’s ‘Moneyball.’ They’re doing it, and before you know it 28 of the 30 teams in the league [will use it], and then it will filter down to college.”
Stevens was given a six-year deal by Boston, worth $22 million. So like Pitino, Danny Ainge and Co. have faith in the 36-year-old head coach that guided Butler to back-to-back national title games.
As for Pitino, he’s made the jump to the NBA twice, one good stint, one bad stint, though the college game has suited him just fine. It’s led him to Final Fours at three different schools, a pair of national titles, and oh yeah a spot in the Hall of Fame’s Class of 2013.