Why supporting Joe Mazzulla is the right choice for the Boston Celtics

Just a few days after the Boston Celtics were ousted from the NBA playoffs, Brad Stevens took to the podium to discuss Joe Mazzulla Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
Just a few days after the Boston Celtics were ousted from the NBA playoffs, Brad Stevens took to the podium to discuss Joe Mazzulla Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports /

Just a few days after the Boston Celtics were ousted from the NBA playoffs, Brad Stevens took to the podium to discuss Joe Mazzulla’s future.

He seemed as cool as a cucumber up at the podium just four days after a demoralizing defeat at the TD Garden in Game 7 to the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals. Well, at least on the surface. One of the biggest takeaways from Brad Stevens’ presser on Thursday afternoon at the Auerbach Center highlighted the job that head coach Mazzulla did in his first season since taking the reins from Ime Udoka.

The former Boston head coach/current Celtics executive spoke highly of his leadership qualities and the fact that while he is not perfect, the 34-year-old has a desire to learn each and every day. Despite some of the overreactions from many, Stevens stayed put on his opinion back in February when he awarded the former West Virginia guard an extension.

Why Brad Stevens made the right choice bringing Joe Mazzulla back to the Boston Celtics

In his first campaign leading a non-Division II program, Mazzulla handled everything thrown his way extraordinarily well. Whether it was being thrust into the fire of one of the most prestigious franchises in the NBA just days before training camp or keeping the Cs in the fight late in the postseason when some had believed the season to be done and dusted, Mazzulla overcame a lot of obstacles. He went from looking at his fellow coaches as equals to him being the superior in a blink of an eye.

Anyone could say he was in over his head, as any first-year coach in charge of a talented team could be, but the job that he did turned the Udoka departure from a storyline into a forgettable memory. It is not about the number of leaders this organization has had in recent years, the reason in favor of Mazzulla is that he possesses a personality that is built on resilience and positive leadership qualities. The players clearly believed in him, and given the way he demonstrated his capacity to learn from his own mistakes, the 34-year-old is the man for the job.

How can you judge someone on such a small sample size, especially when the support around him, coaching-wise was not what fellow coaches had at their disposal? The answer is you can’t. Stevens is not panicking. He knows the talent of Mazzulla better than anyone. Given the proper staff next season, we could start seeing some of Boston’s flaws begin to wane.

In the middle of the season, he lost one of the club’s most experienced coaches on his staff. The former NBA Rookie of the Year Damon Stoudamire took the Georgia Tech head coaching job, succeeding Josh Pastner on March 14. Stoudamire played 13 seasons in the association, joining the Cs back in 2021. With his decision to leave, Boston was left with one assistant with NBA experience.

Aaron Miles, an Oregon native like many of the coaches on this staff played just 19 games for the Golden State Warriors before traveling abroad. In comparison, the team that just put an end to the Boston Celtics season has 43 seasons of NBA experience combined among their staff. On the Western Conference side, the Denver Nuggets have the luxury of over 20 years of NBA experience along with someone who was a head coach in the association for more than one season before. Some will say coaching doesn’t matter, but at the end of the day, these are the guys that are instructing some of the world’s most talented basketball players day in and day out. It doesn’t just come down to the head coach, every team needs people from different backgrounds to help elevate the potential of players coming from all over the world.

Equipped with new experienced faces on his Boston Celtics coaching staff next season, Joe Mazzulla will have all the tools for his continued growth

Each ball club must have that one person or even two that know what the daily grind in the league is like. Stoudamire was the one that could relate, the few left could not. Boston missed that after March 14. They failed to replace Will Hardy, and just a month before the postseason, Stevens could not find anyone to slide into Stoudamire’s place. Stevens expressed his intention to bring on someone with a “a lot of NBA experience”. Whether it is someone like Frank Vogel or even Jerry Stackhouse among others, Boston needs someone that has been around the block more than just once.

The NBA world saw how Mazzulla grew from day one as the coach to now. With the right kind of people around him, there is no question a person with his type of competitiveness can be an NBA head coach. Nobody went through the wringer quite like Mazzulla over the past few months. Stevens rightly backed his guy and with new assistants coming into the staff, this Boston Celtics team should have a fire in their stomach to get where they need to be under the guidance of Mazzulla.