Barring a miracle run to the postseason, a dozen regular-season games separate the 2013-14 Celtics from their offseason, when things should really get interesting.
But coach Brad Stevens said preparation for the upcoming summer began long ago.
“When that time comes, we’ll have exit meetings and we’ll have a plan for each guy individually and it’s not something that we’ve started recently,” Stevens said. “We’ve been working on that all year.”
Which is not surprising, considering Stevens’s process-orientated, detail-centric approach, in which nothing is left to chance. But there are differences with how the rookie NBA coach will approach this offseason compared with what he did when he coached at Butler University.
“I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about that, because obviously this is a little different than college,” Stevens said. “When you finish college, you give them a couple weeks of, but they’re all there on campus. You can get with them any time. Obviously, when the season ends in the pros, most people go their own way.”
But when he coached at Butler, Stevens and his staff went to great lengths to give players material that would help guide offseason workouts, according to Matthew Graves, a former Butler assistant under Stevens and now the head basketball coach at the University of South Alabama.
“For each player, we would put together a DVD that included all of the shots that they attempted throughout the season,” Graves told the Globe in a telephone interview. “For some guys, it was obviously a lot longer than others.
“From that video, they had a sheet of stats that said, on catch-and-shoot 3s, they were this percentage, or on the right block, they scored on this percentage, or on lefthand layups, they shot this percentage.
“From that, you can really begin to develop a workout plan to show them, these are the areas that you really excel in, and here are some areas that you can improve on. For example, if a guy struggled shooting every time he went left, well, then you continue to work on that, but maybe it’s your ballhandling. It’s just another tool to use to break down a way for a player to get better.”
It’s not a stretch to believe that Stevens might make similar DVDs and intricate stat sheets for every Celtics player. When asked if that would be the case, he said that every season was different but that “you always want to put time and thought into how guys can improve during the offseason.”
Stevens had given a similar response with regards to offseason preparation after being asked if he might grade players on their regular-season performance.
“I think it’s more about, let’s define reality of where we are collectively, where you are individually,” Stevens said. “It’s a great time to do that, because you don’t have a game for six months. Your confidence isn’t necessarily going to be affected because you don’t play the next day, those types of things, good and bad.
“And then what do we need to do to make this the best that it can be for you. It’s like we talked [about] the other day, everybody’s got a strength. That’s why they’re here. The key is, can guys perfect those strengths and manage their weaknesses.”
Stevens said the goal in these final games, aside from wins, is to see other things — the combination of Rajon Rondo and Avery Bradley on the court; and improvements by young players, such as Jared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk.
Olynyk, the team’s 2013 first-round draft pick out of Gonzaga, should be expected to play with the Celtics’ Summer League team, but Stevens said it would be unlikely that Sullinger, a second-year forward, will do so.
However, with his first NBA season nearly over, and after taking a close look at many of the better teams and players from across the league, Stevens has an idea of what his players need to do when the summer rolls around.
“The key is getting back to again, what I said earlier, about [being] great at what you do well,” he said. “Your strengths have to stand out. Your strengths have to be perfected. I look across the league at some of these really good teams and these great players, and you give a guy that shoots 18-footers an 18-footer, he makes it every time. Every. Single. Time. You give a guy an open 3 and he makes it every single time.
“That’s what the great teams do. That’s where, if you’re a good shooter, become a great one. If you’re a good ballhandler, become a great one. Yes, [our players] have added some things to their repertoire, but I think at the end of the day, sometimes less is more.”Baxter Holmes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @BaxterHolmes.