Boston Celtics: Is Doc Rivers the Right Coach for the Future of the Team?
Before I delve into this too much, I want to point out the Doc has been a fantastic coach for the Boston Celtics the past few years bringing us a ring we sorely missed for two decades and harnessing the power of the "Big Three" and molding Rajon Rondo into an All-Star point guard.
What Doc has been able to do in terms of creating a team mentality in a league full of superstars and egos is rare and generally fleeting. With most of the veteran leadership that Doc has been able to rely on to govern the locker room.
We forget that while Doc had mild success in Orlando coaching the Magic and winning NBA Coach of the Year in 1999-2000, he was never truly considered a great coach until he came to Boston. Doc was able to coach up some scrappy players in his first season and then had the misfortune to coach the Grant Hill-less Orlando Magic at a time where he should have prospered.
Much like Rajon Rondo, Tracy McGrady was someone who was seen as one of the next great players in the NBA. But unlike Rondo, McGrady never reached his potential. Part of this had to do with the talent around McGrady. Maybe if Grant Hill never was injured this would be a different story but as the saying goes a coach is only as good as the talent around him.
Fast forward to Boston, where Doc again was stuck with one star on his roster and a bunch of projects and has-beens. Doc kept them respectable but was that ever enough. Just prior to the massive shakeup of 2007, Doc was another mediocre coach with a mediocre team.
During that same summer, there was much speculation as to whether Doc could handle three large egos. There was also no guarantee that his offense would move the ball around enough to get the "Big Three" involved and keep them happy. He was able to get them to buy into that, largely due to the fact that Ray Allen, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett wanted a ring so bad.
Doc has had two of the most respected assistant coaches in the league on his bench the past two years in Tom Thibodeau and Lawrence Frank. He won't have those guys on the bench after this season according to most reports with Thibodeau leading the Chicago Bulls and Frank being considered for multiple coaching vacancies.
This is not to say Doc is not a brilliant strategist in his own right. Doc has kept that same ferocity on defense and has helped design those pick and roll and screens that keep everyone open. It is also important to remember that Doc was able to get a team that revolved around a not-quite polished Paul Pierce and the trigger-happy antics of Antoine Walker to the Eastern Conference playoffs in 2004-05.
In the summer of 2012, though, Doc likely won't have Kevin Garnett picking up everyone's intensity, nor will he have Ray Allen's ice cold shot from beyond the arc. The roster will consist of Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo, Jeff Green and Avery Bradley—this much we know right now.
Does that sound like the core of a championship contender to you right now?
Looking at the Eastern Conference landscape next year, the Celtics will be faced with an even tougher task ahead of them. The Miami Heat, New York Knicks and Chicago Bulls all look to be shaping into tougher opponents along with the Orlando Magic and Atlanta Hawks as perennial playoff contenders, the Celtics in their current form may not be up to the task and Doc may not have a new tricks to motivate the team anymore.
One last hurrah may not be enough to get them over the hump next year and after that the future facing the Celtics is even scarier.
It has been said that in the NBA the coach gets too much credit and too much blame. Everyone thinks that Phil Jackson should have won eleven championships. He had Jordan, Pippen, Shaq and Kobe, four all-time greats. Doc has three and won one ring. It doesn't look like Danny Ainge is going to be able to pull off that same heist that he did back in 2007.
Unfortunately, Doc's success is a product of his players and to be honest, his players just won't be that good in 2012. Doc won't be the right coach to lead it's team into it's next phase, most likely, no one will.
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