With Stevens leading a Boston Celtics team playing without All-Stars Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving to a 2-0 lead in the Eastern Conference finals, his value has become a popular source of debate. FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver put the bar very high indeed, finding nearly 50/50 results on a poll asking respondents to choose between Stevens and MVP contender Giannis Antetokounmpo after the first round of the playoffs.
As Ben Falk laid out in a subscription piece on Cleaning the Glass last week, even determining the general value of coaching remains difficult, let alone assessing individual coaches. Yet, as Kevin O’Connor pointed out on The Ringer,cheap nike nfl jerseys from china there are compelling arguments for the value of a great coach like Stevens: Not only would a team get him (presuming extensions) for longer than any individual player, rewarding him with a high salary doesn’t affect the team’s salary cap, as is the case with a star player.
If we imagine the NBA decided to put all its players and coaches in a draft, and let the 30 teams pick among them, I think Stevens would probably go in the top 30 or 40 — that is, late in the first round or maybe early in the second. That would put him in the same range as current or future All-Star players.
At the same time, I’m chastened by Stan Van Gundy’s departure from the Detroit Pistons last week. If not ever regarded quite as highly as Stevens, Van Gundy was once one of the league’s most celebrated coaches. Remember, Van Gundy was perhaps the Golden State Warriors’ top target to replace Mark Jackson — a job that eventually went to Steve Kerr — before getting the opportunity to run basketball operations in Detroit.
The evidence is pretty clear that basically no coaching candidates are good enough to offer a dual role as head coach and front-office executive in order to land them. Something similar is true of Tom Thibodeau with the Minnesota Timberwolves. While it’s less clear whether Thibodeau’s coaching is being undermined by his front-office role, two seasons into his Minnesota tenure, Thibodeau has yet to produce the same defensive results he saw with the Chicago Bulls.
Remember, not that long ago it was Thibodeau’s example we were using to discuss the upper bounds of value of coaches (and by we, I mean me). That’s a pretty good sign that coaches’ skills aren’t as consistent or transferable as those of star players.
While I think Stevens is more likely to fall in the Gregg Popovich category of creating lasting value by changing with the style of play, odds are he won’t look quite as valuable down the road as he does now. Rarely are coaches as good, or as bad, as they seem in the moment.nfl replica jerseys cheap
“I know you often cite that the reason a team lost is not due to how the winning team played, but how poorly the losing team shot when compared to their shot quality as measured by Second Spectrum’s measures. However, is there a team in the NBA where their opponents consistently underperform their expected effective field-goal percentage based on shot quality? If there is, would this be indicative of good defenses being able mentally and physically wear down their opponents to the point where even open shots don’t end up going in?”