BOSTON -- Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens isn't quite ready to trade his whiteboard for a tablet, but NBA benches are getting a technological infusion this season, and Stevens is intrigued by the potential of a new digital teaching tool.
For the first time this season, the NBA will allow teams to utilize hard-wired internet connections on the bench to both ingest game film and transfer video with team personnel working in the locker room.
As USA Today noted while first reporting the change last month, teams previously had to edit video in the locker room before manually relaying it to the bench. The new rule makes it a more viable option for bench personnel to review in-game footage.
For the Celtics, the change likely means they'll relocate head video coordinator/coaching assistant Brandon Bailey, who could be seen cutting video on a laptop behind the Boston bench during preseason games. The new setup will allow Bailey, with help from video personnel in the locker room, to quickly transfer game footage -- both live and archived -- to a tablet that Boston coaches, players and medical personnel could utilize to review the clips.
"I'm not sure what the best way to maximize [the immediate video] is yet," Stevens said. "I think what we are going to do is to have the iPad to be able to give to an assistant so that an assistant can go watch in short bursts. But I don’t know that having guys on the iPad the whole time and not engaged in the game is a good thing. It’s a real delicate balance."
With access to archived film, the Celtics seemingly could preload an iPad with clips of all Stevens' famous after-timeout plays they've previously run. That might allow Stevens to not only draw up a play but potentially show his team an instance where they ran it successfully.
While intrigued to see how coaches embrace the new technology across the league, Stevens is content to stick with the crib sheet he carries during games and will continue sketching out plays on his whiteboard during timeouts.
"A lot of teams already have those draw-ups in a binder or whatever, right? So they can go to that quickly and look at that," Stevens said. "But I think you have to make decisions so fast, it’s like, I push a button, I figure out which one to run, and then to watch it."
Even extended television timeouts would leave Stevens scrambling to maximize stoppages in play. At the onset of the new technology, Stevens believes the Celtics will benefit from small doses of in-game film for assistants to "teach quick."
Celtics players utilize laptops and tablets to study game film in the locker room before games and many are intrigued by the possibility of seeing clips when they sub out. The Portland Trail Blazers used locker room-relayed video in recent seasons to allow players to study defensive tendencies or analyze shot mechanics. As Wesley Matthews told The Oregonian in 2013, "It’s just instant feedback. ... You can actually see what happened. Video doesn’t lie."
Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge believes Stevens will find the best way to utilize the new technology based on how Boston's players learn best.
"Every guy is different. I had guys when I was coaching in Phoenix that would come off the court and say, 'I hedged too high there,' and then you'd go back and watch the film later and that's exactly what happened," said Ainge. "Other guys needed to see it to adjust."
Stevens typically has Boston's video staff queue up a series of first-half clips that he can show at halftime in order for the team to make necessary in-game adjustments. It's fair to wonder if Stevens, by working with Bailey and the locker room staff, can make those adjustments even faster now.
Of course, there likely will be some bumps in adapting to the new technology. The NFL debuted Microsoft Surface tablets on the sideline during the 2014 season and, just last week, New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick said he was "done with tablets," given their lack of dependability during games.
For now at least, NBA coaches are intrigued by the potential of video on the bench.
"It's a positive," Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts told The Oregonian last month. "The fact that you can, at the next timeout, basically show a guy a play that either was good or wasn't good [is great]. The immediacy of being able to use that is the most important thing."