Consider this your final reminder to go read the Brad Stevens article in SI if you haven't already. If you don't have the print version, here it is online.
Kelly Dwyer of Ball Don't Lie pulls at an interesting thread from it. He points out that college coaches coming to the NBA often struggle, not because they can't relate to veterans, but because they aren't up to speed on what all those veterans can and can't do.
The answer to most college coaching failures is less exciting and hardly the stuff that sells newspapers or leads cable chat shows. The coaches just don’t know NBA personnel. They don’t know how to utilize their own players, they don’t know how to defend their opponents, and they certainly (in the case of college coaches with significant front office sway) how to deal for or sign it. It’s less about standing up to a 32-year old in his last big contract year in the locker room, and more about telling him where to go in the huddle.
That makes a lot of sense. In college, a system can win a lot of games regardless of the opponent. Look at Syracuse, their zone defense alone is enough to flummox half the teams they play to the point where they are in a good position to win. I'm not saying that college coaches don't know their own players or scout other teams. But there would appear to be more room for error at the university level.
Before this summer, Stevens' only real exposure to the league has been through League Pass and some familiarity with the players that played with and against Butler on their way to The Show. So he's got a lot of catching up to do.
Learning Rondo's personality quirks is just one part of the job. He'll also have to know what kind of offensive sets work best for Rajon and how he fits into those sets and how to take advantage of matchups around the league. Stevens will have to decide if he thinks Rondo holds onto the ball too much or if he wants the ball in his hands the longest because he's going to make the best decisions. All of which might depend on which players happen to be on the court at that time.
By all accounts he's got a great mind for this stuff and he's probably burning the midnight oil this summer, but it is a distinct disadvantage for him heading into his first year. So there almost has to be a learning curve that he'll have to overcome.
It is comforting, therefore, that Stevens has a long term contract in which he'll have a chance to prove himself. Ainge showed great faith and support for Doc Rivers when the team was struggling before the KG era began. Stevens can be sure that if he's putting in the time and making improvements, he'll have the support of the front office.