If there’s one thing that has stood out so far in the early days of this season for the Celtics, it’s Ime Udoka’s leadership. When Udoka took over the head coach role in Boston, he had one important task to do: rebuild the winning culture the Celtics once had. This also meant having to lead a team composed of Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart — the three of the core pieces of the Celtics.
So far, Udoka has instilled a system that would operate around the three pillars of the team. Aside from Tatum, Brown and Smart, the former Brooklyn Nets assistant coach also needs to squeeze in his shooters, bigs, perimeter defenders and young and old players in his system. And with a ton of skills he Udoka needs to evaluate, he mentions that his goal is to take it day-by-day.
“It’ll play itself out to some extent in training camp and preseason,” Udoka said. “We feel comfortable with 10-12 of our guys. It’s just a matter of game-by-game, scheme and coverage and who we’re guarding and who we’re playing. it’s hard to play 12 guys, obviously, every night. Nine to ten is a more manageable number and so that’s where the competition lies and how they’ll play in the games, and what we’re seeing in practice,” he added.
It seems like it’s going to be a matchup based kind of thing for Udoka, which is kind of smart if you think about it. First, it’s harder for his opponents to scout because they don’t know which lineups would come out of the gates each game. Second, it gives a fair chance for everyone in the roster, despite their pay rainge and skill set.
yesterday’s practice got a little competitive 👀 pic.twitter.com/hoyMsN0ITf
Aside from a new systematic change, Udoka has also started implying some rules to help fix the Celtics’ culture. Just recently, the newly appointed head coach told his players to stop complaining to the referees when they don’t receive the fouls they do — a recurring theme in the modern NBA era. Udoka said that he’s going to take the responsibility of backing up his players.
“Let me b*tсh at the refs. You guys play through plays and move on to the next thing and let me be the guy who complains to the ref. That’s not the team we want to be and that’s not who I am. I don’t want the team to start сrying about every call,” the Celtics’ new coach said, according to Boston Globe’s Gary Washburn.
Next, Udoka has also made it straight that the Celtics will have two team captains this season, something former head coach and now team General Manager Brad Stevens never instilled in his team. Stevens always believed that basketball was a team game and barely implemented a captain on his team during his era. But Udoka is changing all that and is doing this for player accountability.
Coach Udoka is planning on leading the team this year with honest coaching and communication in order to cultivate deep relationships. pic.twitter.com/ngvUzIBlSn
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) September 28, 2021
There hasn’t been word on who the team captains are for the Celtics but it’s already a great way to operate. Call me old school but I believe there should always be consistent communication in every team sport — from the best player until the 15th man in the roster. Two leaders is what the Celtics need especially given their roster that’s mixed with young and veteran players.
That said, it seems Udoka has already imprinted some of his regulations around this team. We don’t know what the results are going to be but the change can be good because that’s exactly what the Celtics needed in order to get back to contention.