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The Best Moves Of The Brad Stevens Era

Brad Stevens completed the Celtics core with key trades.

In honor of the Celtics securing the NBA title and winning a record-breaking 18th championship, it’s time to think about the moves that got them here. Danny Ainge laid the foundation by drafting Jaylen Brown in 2016 and then Jayson Tatum in 2017. However, Brad Stevens completed the core with four key trades. Let’s look back at these trades and the impact of the players involved in them.

The Best Moves Of The Brad Stevens Era

Al Horford

In the 2019 offseason, Al Horford left the Celtics for the 76ers. When Stevens transitioned from coaching to management in 2021 he knew he’d have to get Horford back who was then on the Thunder. The Celtics traded Kemba Walker, the 16th overall pick, a 2025 second-round pick for Horford, Moses Brown, and a 2023 second-round pick. This deal proved to be incredible value for the Celtics, especially considering Walker’s career would shortly be over. Walker, dealing with various injuries, only played 46 more games in the NBA.

Horford reignited his career with the Celtics and brought a crucial leadership presence. In his three seasons since returning to Boston, Horford is averaging 9.5 points, 6.8 rebounds, 3.0 assists, and 1.1 blocks on .591/.403/.829 shooting splits. Horford’s abilities as a floor spacer and switchable defender have been crucial to the Celtics’ success. Notably before winning this year, Horford had played in the second-most playoff games without winning a championship. With a ring and a superb 17-year career, Horford has cemented himself as a Hall of Famer.

Derrick White

At the 2022 trade deadline, Brad Stevens struck gold by trading for Derrick White. The Celtics shipped out Josh Richardson, Romeo Langford, and a 2022 first-round pick which became Blake Wesley. Looking back on this deal it was an absolute steal for the Celtics. Since joining the team White has been an integral part of Boston’s success. He’s an all-around guard without any noticeable flaws. White has been named to the all-defensive second team in his only two full seasons with the Celtics. Notably, this year White’s 1.2 blocks per game and 87 total blocks were the most in the league among guards.

This season White got a larger role in the offense; he had a career season averaging 15.2 points, 4.2 rebounds, 5.2 assists, 1.2 blocks, and one steal on .461/.386/.901 shooting splits. White’s play even garnered him an All-Star buzz. For the Celtics to have a fourth option with White’s shooting and shot creation is a true luxury. Additionally, White elevated his game in the playoffs averaging 16.7 points, 4.3 rebounds, 4.1 assists, 1.3 blocks, and .9 steals on .452/.404/.921 shooting splits. Ultimately White’s two-way abilities have been immensely important for the Celtics.

Kristaps Porzingis

The Kristaps Porzingis trade was initially controversial last summer as the Celtics parted ways with fan favorite Marcus Smart. However, Porzingis proved to be well worth the price having a stellar first season with the Celtics. The full deal also gave the Celtics the 25th overall which they traded down and a 2024 first-round pick which they used as a part of the Jrue Holiday trade. Immediately upon joining the team Porzingis proved to be the missing piece and unlocked a new element on both ends of the floor.

On the season Porzingis averaged 20.1 points, 7.2 rebounds, 2.0 assists, and 1.9 blocks on .516/.375/.858 shooting splits. Porzingis’ abilities as a lob threat, post-up scorer, and floor spacer gave the Celtics’ offense a new dimension. Defensively, Porzingis is extremely valuable as a switchable shot blocker and rim protector. Unfortunately, Porzingis dealt with two separate injuries in the playoffs which kept him sidelined for all but seven playoff games. However, this includes a 20-point outburst in Game 1 of the finals which was Porzingis’ first game in nearly a month. Porzingis later suffered a rare foot injury in Game 2 but was able to return in Game 5 to clinch the championship with his team. Porzingis was incredible for the Celtics throughout the season and he is a core part of the franchise moving forward. This move highlights Stevens’ vision and willingness to address team needs.

Jrue Holiday

Just weeks before the 2023-24 season Stevens put the final touch on this championship roster by trading for Jrue Holiday. The Celtics dealt Malcolm Brogdon, and Robert Williams, a 2024 and 2029 first-round pick as a part of this trade. Holiday was in Portland at the time due to the Damian Lillard trade. The Bucks have since been widely criticized for in-directly allowing the Celtics to land Holiday. In his first season with the Celtics Holiday proved to be incredibly valuable to the Celtics. Holiday is an elite defender with the ability to guard any position. Offensively Holiday willingly sacrificed his role for the betterment of the team. However, he still played a vital role as a connective playmaker and spot-up shooter. Holiday is also an elite rebounder averaging 7.4 in the finals including two 11-rebound performances.

Brad Stevens doubled down on the Celtics’ strengths by adding Holiday while also bringing in crucial championship experience and amazing leadership. In the playoffs, Holiday made countless clutch plays including a Game 3 clinching steal against the Pacers and a Game 2 clinching layup against the Mavericks. Impressively in the playoffs, Holiday posted a perfect field goal percentage in the clutch. After winning his second NBA title Holiday has a very solid Hall of Fame case.


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