Behind the Numbers: Stevens’ Sophomore Season

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Brad Stevens has only been coaching in the NBA for two seasons, but the 38-year-old hoops mastermind is already making a name for himself and earning league-wide respect.

He was thrust into his first NBA experience during the summer of 2013 with a freshly rebuilding Celtics team, and he certainly went through some growing pains with the young Boston squad that went 25-57.

That record was no surprise to many, as the C’s were widely expected to fall in the standings following the departures of veteran stars Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett.

But this past season, Stevens and the Celtics shocked the league when they went on a post-All-Star break tear and ended up with a 40-42 record and the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference.

From his first campaign to his second, Stevens saw his winning percentage increase by 60 percent, from .305 to .488. Of the 23 other active NBA coaches that have coached more than one full season, only Lakers coach Byron Scott has had a larger jump from his first season to his next.

Scott had an astonishing 100 percent win increase following his lowly 26-56 inaugural season with the Nets in 2000-01. He guided New Jersey to a 52-30 record and an Atlantic Division title the next season.

Although that 100 percent increase is far beyond Stevens’ number this past season, Boston’s coach arguably made more impressive strides. In fact, his improvements may be the most remarkable out of all 24 that qualify.

In most cases, new NBA coaches who have seen a drastic winning percentage increase from one year to the next have done so with the help of star additions to their respective teams.

For example, Scott’s second-year success was largely due to the fact that following his first season with the Nets, the organization acquired future Hall-of-Fame point guard Jason Kidd. On top of that, their three other top scorers, Kerry Kittles, Kenyon Martin and Keith Van Horn, all made healthy returns that season after battling injuries during Scott’s inaugural campaign.

Stevens' percentage may be a distant second to Scott’s, but he accomplished his feat without the addition of a star player and amidst constant roster turnover. Boston also traded away its top two performers – Rajon Rondo and Jeff Green – in the middle of the season, which greatly shook up the rotation.

Now, the question is, can Stevens further improve the team’s record this coming season? Of the 16 coaches who have headed an NBA team for at least three seasons, only four – Lionel Hollins, Eric Spoelstra, Kevin McHale and Doc Rivers – have increased their winning percentage from their first to their second season, and then again from their second to their third.

Seeing as Stevens has another year of experience under his belt and the organization has gained more assets than it lost during this offseason, he should have a good chance of joining that select company by the end of the 2015-16 season.

Check out the sortable table below to see exactly how Stevens compares to the 23 other active coaches who have coached more than one season in the NBA. Keep in mind that the records listed for each coach reflect upon their first three seasons in the NBA, beginning with their first full season as a head coach. Those three seasons do not necessarily correspond with the team they are currently coaching, as many have made previous stops with other organizations.

  1. Stotts was fired by the Bucks during his third full season of coaching in 2006-07; he was then hired by the Trail Blazers prior to the 2012-13 season.
  2. Van Gundy resigned from the heat during his third season in 2005-06; he was then hired by the Magic prior to the 2007-08 season.
  3. Malone was fired by the Kings during his second season in 2014-15; he was then hired by the Nuggets prior to the 2015-16 season.
  4. Casey was fired by the Timberwolves during his second season of coaching in 2007-07; he was then hired by the Raptors in 2011.
  5. Wittman and the Cavaliers parted ways following his second season in 2000-01; he was then hired by the Timberwolves midway through the 2006-07 season.
  6. Karl was fired by the Cavaliers during his second season in 1985-86; he was then hired by the Warriors prior to the 1986-87 season.
  7. Gentry was fired by the Pistons during his second full season in 1999-00; he was then hired by the Clippers prior to the 2000-01 season.
  8. Skiles was fired by the Suns during his second full season in 2001-02; he was then hired by the Bulls partway through the 2003-04 season.

        * First full season was during a lockout.

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