Boston Celtics: Brad Stevens, the mad scientist, messed around and built the best team ever

Boston Celtics Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum (Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports)
Boston Celtics Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum (Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports) /

Brad Stevens may have messed around and assembled the best team every with this year’s Boston Celtics.

Last summer, when Brad Stevens stepped down as the head coach of the Boston Celtics, the initial thought was that the team was heading toward some uncertainty. And the team’s 25-25 record to start the season pretty much backed that up. But, then something happened.

During the last 32 games of the season, the Celtics were the best team in the league. It was as if something had clicked for the team. Boston went 26-6 over that last stretch and had the best offensive rating, defensive rating, and net rating (by far) in the league.

Though, injuries and overall fatigue got the best of the Celtics in the playoffs and they eventually fell to the Golden State Warriors in six games in the NBA Finals.

Was it a lost season? A missed opportunity? Or perhaps the start of something great? Soon enough, we would all find out. During the offseason, the Celtics wasted little time to keep the momentum going.

The Boston Celtics’ went all-in during an offseason in which it wasn’t necessary. And it has paid off.

They acquired Malcolm Brogdon and Danilo Gallinari. They could’ve easily just run it back after making it to the NBA Finals but decided not to be complacent – and Stevens played a big role in that thinking.

He knew the team was close but also agreed that one or two moves could help the team get over the hump. Adding Brogdon and Gallinari fit that thinking exactly to a T. Even though Gallinari is out for the season due to an unfortunate injury, the addition of Brogdon has made all the difference for a team that lacked depth at times during their postseason run.

The Celtics went all-in during the offseason and now they may have one of the best teams ever assembled. This is a perfectly built team. And it all begins with the team’s two stars – Jayson Tatum, who may be the favorite to win the NBA MVP, and Jaylen Brown.

Then you have Marcus Smart, Malcolm Brogdon, and Al Horford – three all-star talents that have embraced roles that not every big-name player would. That’s basically Boston’s cheat code. Oh, and I haven’t even mentioned Robert Williams, who is one of the league’s rising stars. He hasn’t played a game this season as he continues to recover from offseason knee surgery, but he’s arguably the best defensive big in the league.

On top of all that, the Celtics have a strong supporting cast that doesn’t get enough credit for how good they’ve been this season – led by Derrick White and Grant Williams.

Once again, the Celtics have the best record, best offensive rating in the league and the best overall net rating. Their defense has suffered a bit but the return of Williams should rectify that. And when you’re scoring that efficiently on offense (at a historic pace), it may not even end up mattering much.

At the grand scheme of the NBA, it may be a little over-reactionary to say that this Celtics team is the best team ever assembled. They’re not going to win 73 wins (or better), likely aren’t going to go through the playoffs undefeated, and may only get two all-stars. But the way this team plays, there’s a very real argument to make that this version of the Celtics should be in the conversation for the best team ever.

Watching the Celtics play, it’s been very clear that there may not be another team in recent history (save for the 2014 San Antonio Spurs) that play with more synergy. And the scary part is that the Celtics are just getting started.

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The core of this team – Tatum, Brown, Williams – are all under the age of 26. This could be just the start of the NBA’s next great dynasty.