Brad Stevens has a really hard job ahead of him. First of all, he's got to learn the NBA game. Then he's got to connect with a whole roster of guys that he's never met before a month ago (and who know that they could be moving on at any moment via trade). Then he's got to work on a gameplan, communicate his philosophy without overwhelming his players, and scout the rest of the league. And all of that happens before training camp even gets started.
Once the ball is tipped, he'll have to figure out how to utilize all his shooting guards and power forwards, bring along his 4 (or more) rookies (plus Melo), and ease the recovering Rondo and Sullinger back to full court, full contact action.
Still, those challenges all might just pale in comparison to the biggest adjustment he's likely going to face. Losing. Take it from a guy that is kind of an authority on the subject. Rick Pitinio. (I still can't type that name without having my lip reflexively curl up in a sneer)
The difference for college guys who weren't assistant coaches is you're going to lose a lot of games. You're going to win a lot of games, too, but you're going to lose more [in one year] than you've lost in five years of college. You have to accept losing and that's the most difficult thing.
Obviously the hope everywhere is that Stevens will succeed where Pitino failed. Much has been said about how different Stevens is from Pitino. In fact, you'd be hard pressed to find someone that isn't optimistic about the job that Stevens will do in Boston. So put aside the guy delivering the message and listen to the lesson.
Losing is hard. Losing stinks. But in the NBA, losing happens.
Even the most optimistic Celtics fans would be happy with about 41 wins this season – meaning Boston would also lose 41, two more than Butler dropped over the past four seasons combined. That will provide a tough adjustment for Stevens. He's never dealt with losing and he's so competitive, his wife Tracy recently told the Boston Globe, that he turned their first vacation as a couple into a string of contests (and never let her win any of them).
Complicating matters will be this whole "rebuilding process" (I'm taking a sabbatical from using the "T" word). Ainge will be hyper-focused on the future, even at the expense (or perhaps particularly at the expense) of today. So dealing with a half deck or a deck stacked against him isn't going to be easy.
Many (myself included) will give him something of a free pass in terms of wins and losses next year. But there are other secondary goals that he's going to need to strive to achieve. Namely developing young players, installing a system that (if properly executed with talented players) can work, and establishing a good working relationship with his core players. If he can achieve those things, it will take the sting away from the losses for many of us.
With that said, it will probably still hurt to see those L's stack up next year. But like a good jump shooter, he's got to ignore the stats and convince himself and the team that "the next one is going in" and the next win is coming right up.