C's Broadening Perspective with Player-Run Practices
WALTHAM, Mass. - It turns out that Steve Kerr is not the only NBA head coach who lets his players call the plays. One day after the Golden State Warriors coach allowed his veterans to draw up plays during a 46-point blowout win over Phoenix, Celtics coach Brad Stevens revealed that he has carried out a similar method during Boston's practice sessions as a way of getting his players more engaged.
"We did it a couple of weeks ago where Al (Horford) and Gordon (Hayward) both had the grease boards," Stevens said Tuesday afternoon following a practice at the team's training facility in Waltham, Massachusetts. "I can't remember if I've ever done it in the middle of a game, like, 'Hey, go and draw it up.' We haven't been up that much very often, but we've talked about that stuff. And I totally get where Steve would be coming from with that."
In most cases, teams will just have the players play and the coaches coach. Stevens, however, believes that by allowing the players to coach, it enables them to see the game from a different perspective.
Horford took the reins a couple of weeks ago during a practice that he was sitting out. Drawing up plays was much more difficult than he anticipated, but he enjoyed the change of pace and understands Stevens' desire to expand his pupils' knowledge of the game through new means.
"It's definitely challenging," Horford said with a chuckle. "I'm not very good at it, but I think that maybe if I see some things in the game, I can call it."
"I think Gordon probably did a better job than me drawing plays," added the All-Star big man. "But I think it's fun. I think it's something different. Coach is kind of putting trust on us to have fun with it."
Player-coaching is not a task that Stevens assigns to every player. He doesn't want to overwhelm the younger Celtics, since they already have a lot on their plate, so, he limits the role to the vets.
"I think it would be harder for the younger guys to do it," said Stevens. "But [the veterans] understand what all five guys are doing in an action, because they understand why you're trying to do it. When you're a young guy and you put in new sets or you're running 25 sets for the first time or whatever, you're just thinking about where you're supposed to be. You're not thinking about why everybody is where they are, who's a decoy, who's running a cut just to cut, who's running a cut to score."
Stevens added that a player-coach role can be beneficial for guys like Hayward and Horford, "who have been through it, who have seen a thousand different things played out throughout the course of their NBA careers."
Seeing things play out from a coach's point of view is something that Horford never experienced before. Now that he understands how difficult it is, he has newfound appreciation for the job that Stevens and his coaching staff face each and every day.
"I was wracking my brain trying to come up with certain plays," said Horford. "And I was like, 'I have no idea.' But once you start putting everything together and seeing what makes sense, what doesn't make sense. Coach is - he's a genius, man. He's pretty smart."
Don't worry, Al; Coach Stevens probably won't be handing over his reins during a high-pressure, live-game situation. But hey, it sure doesn't hurt to have a few more coaching minds to feed off of in the huddle.