TrueHoop: Brad Stevens

Basketball Analytics Panel at Sloan

February, 28, 2014
Feb 28
6:54
PM ET
By Staff
ESPN.com

Celtics and Sixers exceeding expectations

November, 10, 2013
11/10/13
1:08
AM ET
By Ryan Feldman
ESPN Stats & Information
Archive
Remember all of that talk before the season about tanking? How the Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers were expected to lose a lot of games in order to position themselves for a top pick in the 2014 NBA draft?

Well, apparently the players and coaches didn’t get the memo.

Boston buzzer-beater
The Celtics went to Miami and upset the Heat on a Jeff Green buzzer-beater.

That’s not normal -– at least with LeBron James in the lineup.

The Heat had won 24 consecutive regular-season home games with James in the lineup entering Saturday. They hadn’t lost a home game with him since Jan. 4.

The Celtics somehow overcame 58 percent shooting by the Heat, making 10 3-pointers to notch their third straight win after starting 0-4. Perhaps first-year head coach Brad Stevens is already figuring this NBA thing out.

Green’s game-winner was his seventh career game-tying or go-ahead field goal in the final 5 seconds of a game. His 64 percent shooting on those shots (7-for-11) is the highest percentage for any player with at least 10 attempts since he entered the league in 2007-08.

Philly facts
The Sixers are another team with a first-year head coach, Brett Brown. After opening 3-0, including an upset win over the Heat to start the season, they lost two straight and looked like they were coming back to earth.

But their performances the past two nights against the Cleveland Cavaliers suggest the Sixers are going to compete night in and night out.

After a 94-79 victory versus the Cavs on Friday, the Sixers went for the home-and-home sweep Saturday in Cleveland. The Sixers extended the game to double overtime and almost earned another period but for a Kyrie Irving game-winning shot in the final second.

At multiple points down the stretch, the Sixers could’ve handed it to the Cavs. But a Thaddeus Young game-tying shot with 5 seconds left in the fourth quarter, an Evan Turner layup with 8 seconds left in the first overtime and a Michael Carter-Williams game-tying 3-pointer with 11 seconds left in double overtime kept the Sixers alive time and time again.

Turner set a career high with 31 points, Young was three points shy of his career high with 29 points, and Carter-Williams had a career-high 13 assists.

MCW for ROY?
Carter-Williams has distinguished himself as the early favorite for the Rookie of the Year award. He is the first player with at least 21 points, 13 assists and 7 rebounds within his first seven career games since Jay Williams for the Chicago Bulls in 2002.

Carter-Williams joined Hall of Famer Oscar Robertson as the only players in NBA history with at least 130 points and 50 assists in their first seven career games.

With college stars like Andrew Wiggins, Julius Randle and Jabari Parker potentially up for grabs in the 2014 NBA draft, teams like the Celtics and Sixers were expected to be in position to acquire as many pingpong ball combinations as possible. But seven games into the season, the Sixers sit in first place in the Atlantic Division with the Celtics just one game back.

Age nothing but a number for Brad Stevens

July, 3, 2013
7/03/13
8:31
PM ET
By ESPN Stats & Information
ESPN.com
Archive
AP Photo/Steve Helber
Stevens will become the NBA's youngest head coach, ahead of Jacque Vaughn.

When Brad Stevens shakes hands with opponents on the court this season, he'll be greeting players his own age.

Stevens was born in 1976. He's 36 years old now and will turn 37 on October 22, just a few days before the NBA season will start.

One could fashion an NBA starting lineup out of active players born in 1976: Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett in the frontcourt, Antawn Jamison the swingman and Andre Miller and Chauncey Billups in the backcourt.

And there are several active players born before 1976: Ray Allen, Steve Nash and Derek Fisher to name a few.

Stevens will likely have more NBA players near his age than NBA coaches. Stevens will become the NBA's youngest active head coach, ahead of Jacque Vaughn (age 38) and David Joerger (age 39). All other NBA coaches are in their 40s or above.

Pitino's pathway
It's easy to make the Stevens connection to the Boston Celtics' hiring of Rick Pitino in 1997. And there are some similarities: Pitino had a .734 winning percentage as a Division I coach with two appearances in the NCAA championship game. Stevens has a .772 winning percentage and also has a pair of title game appearances.

But Pitino had two full seasons of NBA experience under his belt, coaching the New York Knicks in 1987-88 and 1988-89. And he had 16 seasons as a Division I head coach when he was hired by the Celtics. Stevens has six.

The closer comparison might be Pitino when he was hired by the Knicks. Pitino was 35 years old and had seven years of Division I experience. Stevens is 36 with six years of Division I experience.

Celtics don't mind first-time coaches
A head coach without previous NBA head coaching experience hasn't been a barrier for the Celtics.

Of their last seven head coaching hires not counting interim coaches, five of them have been first-time head coaches.

The only exceptions were Pitino, who previously coached the Knicks, and Doc Rivers, who previously coached the Orlando Magic.

Butler's Brad Stevens: Quant Guy

March, 30, 2010
3/30/10
6:45
PM ET
Arnovitz By Kevin Arnovitz
ESPN.com
Archive
In Sunday's New York Times, Billy Witz had a profile of Butler's 33-year-old head coach, Brad Stevens.

Prior to getting in on the ground floor at Butler as the director of basketball operations, Stevens was on the corporate track as a young marketing exec at Eli Lilly. A decade later, he's applying analytics as the coach of an undersized team that's busting brackets all over America:
Brad Stevens is a believer in statistical analysis, which after heavily influencing baseball is making its way into basketball. At home, he pores over statistics almost as much as he does film in preparing game plans. He refers to the 6-foot-3 forward Willie Veasley as his team’s Shane Battier, the Houston Rockets player whose role as a facilitator is not often reflected in box scores but has made him a darling of the statistical set.

The result is a team that is not gifted athletically and starts only two players taller than 6-3 but that could outrebound Kansas State by 12. And force Syracuse into 18 turnovers. And hold each regional opponent to a season-low point total, neither reaching 60 points.

... In each game, there were key wrinkles in the Bulldogs’ game plan — how they tried to force Syracuse’s Andy Rautins to dribble to his right, for example, or the way they changed the positioning of their screens against Kansas State.

When center Matt Howard was in foul trouble early against Kansas State, Andrew Smith, a husky freshman who had not played in a tournament game, performed as if he had prepared all season for the moment, playing a near-flawless 12 minutes, a season high.

“We know everything we need to about our opponents, all their tendencies are broken down,” the sophomore guard Ronald Nored said. “I honestly believe every time we go on the court, we’re the most prepared team in the country.”

Today on Pardon the Interruption, Stevens expands on the details explored in Witz's story:



Wake Forest's Dino Gaudio is another Division I head coach who uses advanced stats to prepare (hat tip: Kevin Pelton). In January 2009, Gaudio told Basketball Prospectus' John Perrotto that he referred to the Pomeroy Ratings, which measures statistical data on a per possession basis, to retool Wake's defense.

How long before we see Division I assistants hanging out in the back of lecture halls in the mathematics building scouting talent for the athletic department?

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