Boston Celtics: Life Without Doc Rivers

Sep 28, 2012; Waltham, MA, USA; The Boston Celtic logo on the hardwood floor during the media day at the Celtics training facility. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 28, 2012; Waltham, MA, USA; The Boston Celtic logo on the hardwood floor during the media day at the Celtics training facility. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports /

Once the Boston Celtics lost their beloved head coach to the Los Angeles Clippers, his storied legacy and the players that helped make it a monumental reality departed in his wake.  The loss of the Celtics staple long time veterans Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett has officially cemented this team into an unknown time period of rebuilding.  Although the Celtics still managed to retain their star point guard Rajon Rondo amongst the other devastating losses, without Doc Rivers at the helm as their fearless leader, the Celtics are a team that is currently stuck in a static state of shock.  While it can’t be denied that the Celtics will have to succumb to an inevitable time period of degrading mediocrity, it will give them the necessary time to fully resurrect their franchise by creating a new and highly anticipated legacy.

While the loss of the Celtics hometown boys is a devastating sentiment initially, what this team was able to acquire in return for their iconic playmakers will ultimately given fans a reason to rejoice in anticipation of what the future will bring.  Along with clearing up significant cap room for future procurements, the Celtics also received former Brooklyn Nets players Gerald Wallace, Kris Joseph and Kris Humphries.  While Kris Humphries is a decent power forward, the Celtics have more pertinent needs at recently vacated positions.  As a small forward, Gerald Wallace was a fairly lackluster shooter with a field goal percentage of 39.7% while scoring 7.7 points per game.  However, Wallace’s resurgent efforts in the Nets brief post-season appearance seem to suggest that his innate athleticism warrants a closer look.  During the first round of the playoffs against the Chicago Bulls, Wallace’s field goal percentage increased dramatically to a 46.3%.  As a result of this vast improvement, Wallace increased his scoring proficiency by garnering 12.0 points per game.  While Wallace lacks the consistency and scoring ability that Paul Pierce was known for, his underappreciated accuracy is what makes him an intriguing acquisition.

 However, the biggest lingering gap in the Celtics roster is the unfortunate absence of the their former center Kevin Garnett.  While the Celtics appear to have addressed this issue to a certain extent by selecting Gonzaga’s leading man Kelly Olynyk in the NBA draft, it’s hard to determine if Olynyk can bring his consistent tenacity and dominating presence once he makes his inevitable debut in the pros.  Even if Olynyk only turns out to be a bench player, the Celtics still have a three future first round picks in their back pocket for the 2014, 2016 and 2018 NBA drafts respectively.  This alleviating outlook will allow the Celtics to use the next NBA season as a trial run for their brand new roster to determine how cohesive they are as a team and how their individual talents coincide with each other.  If certain prospects don’t pan out or prove to be a complete bust altogether, the Celtics have plenty of financial cap room to acquire one or several desired future free agents and can also utilize future drafts to receive young talent to bolster their roster with a plethora of legacy potential.

Of course, all of these enthralling pick ups won’t mean much if the Celtics don’t have a valiant leader who can confidently and patiently dictate to a team that is just starting to get familiar with their new setting.  Yesterday, in a move that was just as shocking as it was awe-inspiring, the Celtics officially filled their coaching vacancy with former Butler head coach Brad Stevens.  Despite his youth, Stevens proved to be more than capable of transforming the Butler Bulldogs from an irrelevant Horizon League squad into a team that garnered deserved notoriety and respect.  Even after losing four starters after his first highly successful year, Stevens still managed to lead his team to a 12-1 start during the 2008-2009 regular season and eventually became only the sixth coach in NCAA history to garner 50 wins in 56 games or fewer.  Stevens’ ability to make an underdog team supremely successful in such a short time span makes him the ideal head coach for a Celtics team that lacks immediate direction and initial inspiration.  If Stevens can bring his innovative and intuitive coaching style to the NBA, the Celtics could not only be competitive but also be dominant in their own right sooner than most could even fathom.

Although the Celtics have some immense growing pains and essential rebuilding to do before they’ll be a perennial playoff team, the moves this team has made even during the fallout of all the losses and adversity they have faced so far is an encouraging sign.  If Brad Stevens can fully utilize his newly found team and reignite this lost franchise back to its former glory, the Boston Celtics will be a Cinderella story worth remembering.