In an interview with Celtics.com’s Amanda Pflugrad and Mark D’Amico at Boston Celtics Media Day, Brad Stevens touched on the topic of incorporating his many new players into the team’s system.
“I think our system will fit into them,” he said, flipping the paradigm of incorporation on its head. Stevens has long been a proponent of building offensive and defensive frameworks based on the talent at hand, and while he is likely to bring a core set of principals to that work, this year’s team should be no different.
The current roster construction would suggest that positional fluidity and versatility will become a major component of the Celtics style of play. Stevens, somewhat tepidly, hinted as such.
“We have to figure out who complements who the best. If it becomes a group of all 6’8, 6’9 guys out on the court, that’s great,” he said. “The more guys that can guard more positions the better, and to be versatile enough offensively to, at the very least, be able to space the floor, is critical.”
Stressing the importance of identifying lineups of complementary players was a common refrain for Stevens, who appears to be more concerned with finding what combinations will yield the most effective play than what will best allow the Celtics to maintain the same philosophies they leaned on last year. That’s the right perspective to be operating from, and it should allow him to maximize the talent he has to work with.
Doing so will likely mean re-envisioning the roles that players have traditionally filled in other places, in particular the team’s new All-Star point guard.
“The narrative is about him as an isolation player,” Stevens said of Kyrie Irving. “But it’s not about the narrative. It’s about all the things he can do.”
It will be up to Stevens to figure out just what all those things are, and Irving to deliver on them. That process will take time, but it will be well worth the effort.