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With a bunch of exciting new faces on the Boston Celtics roster, it is easy to forget that the asset with the best chance at a breakout year is head coach Brad Stevens.
Like Kelly Olynyk, Stevens is entering his second season in the NBA after leaving much weaker competition at Butler University. He had an assortment of growing pains as a rookie head coach, and wasn't helped much by the tanking talk and poorly-assembled roster he was given to work with.
With a year of experience, he should have gained an incredible amount of knowledge coaching 82 NBA games and meeting the other 29 head coaches in the league.
The roster he will be given to start 2014-15 may not appear a ton better overall, but there are more clearly defined pieces and he'll seemingly have everyone healthy and hopefully in good shape. Last year he had to work with the Rondo return date looming over everything, and still did a solid job of trying to keep Boston competitive in his absence.
If Rondo isn't traded over the next two months, he should serve as a massive help for Stevens in his second season. Rondo is a coach on the floor, and if he is on the same page with his head coach, things should run more smoothly than they did last season with him in and out of the lineup.
There are still some holes to fill, and we'll see if he is more confident drawing up end-of-game plays and the like, but Stevens has a roster mostly made up of younger guys now. Those are the types of players he was accustomed to coaching in college, and even more so the castoffs that big programs didn't recruit. Evan Turner and Tyler Zeller were afterthoughts on their most recent teams. Even Jared Sullinger, who fell far in the draft, fits that bill.
It won't be easily noticed in glances at games and reading the standings in the paper every morning, but Stevens is a true breakout candidate for 2014-15.