The Celtics hired Brooklyn Nets assistant coach Ime Udoka to be their next head coach on Wednesday. The hire is Brad Stevens’ second major move as Celtics president after the trading of Kemba Walker last week. In Udoka, the Celtics get a young, but seasoned coach who is a champion and former NBA player.
The Celtics are in need of a jumpstart from their new coach and Udoka has the potential to give them one. Udoka is not as fiery as some other coaches, but he also has a reputation of not taking many excuses. He has previously coached the Celtics top two players, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, as part of Team USA. His playing experience is also a departure from Stevens’ tenure. The younger Celtics stars will likely benefit from being coached by someone who has been in their shoes before.
Udoka won a championship as an assistant with the Spurs in 2014. He has seen first hand what it takes to win in the NBA and his championship credentials will give him added clout as the Celtics look to return to contention this season. A final positive is that he has experience coaching multiple stars together, both with the Spurs and current Nets. This will help as Tatum and Brown continue to elevate their games and become an elite duo.
The biggest drawback for Udoka is that he does not have previous NBA head coaching experience. Although this is not ideal, his other credentials set him up well enough for success with the Celtics. Udoka will be walking into an interesting situation; Boston has one of the best young duos in the NBA, but the organization has underachieved for three consecutive seasons. If Udoka can give the Celtics the energy and effort jolt they need, it will be a major step towards the team contending again. But he needs to hit the ground running with the clock starting to tick on Tatum and Brown’s free agency.