BOSTON (CBS) – Brad Stevens knew what he signed up for when he agreed to leave the college ranks for the pros over the summer.

No Kevin Garnett, no Paul Pierce and no Rajon Rondo to start the season, but a special opportunity to build a winning team over the guaranteed six years of his contract.

So far the winning has been hard to come by, and in his first year it’s the improvements that matter most to him.

“Each win or each loss we look at through the lens of just trying to improve,” said Stevens Friday afternoon on Gresh & Zo. “I thought we played better against Orlando than we did in Philly on the defensive end of the court, and then that flip-flopped Wednesday night where our offense really carried us. Hopefully we can start putting those together more consistently.”

Rajon Rondo played in his first game back from knee surgery three weeks ago to the day, and after a quiet start the All Star point guard has really picked up his play recently with 10+ assists in his last two contests.

However, managing playing time on that injured knee will be imperative for Stevens. Rondo sat out of practice Thursday due to soreness, likely due to a steady increase in minutes. The status for tonight’s game against Sacramento for both he and Avery Bradley (leg) have yet to be determined.

Jeff Green’s two recent scoring outbursts (36 points on 2/5 and 39 on 1/22) come as a surprise to no one, because we’ve seen the forward go off like that numerous times in the past.

As an athletic, physical specimen capable of huge scoring bonanzas, games like those only reinforce to fans his level of inconsistency. Stevens acknowledged Green’s up and down play, but credited his work ethic and desire to improve.

Speaking of two players with ambition to be great, the coach also touched on Jared Sullinger and rookie Kelly Olynyk, who were chosen by the NBA to compete at the All Star Game in the Rising Stars Challenge.

Stevens thinks its a great honor, but also warns of the adverse effect it might have on a player.

“For the 18 guys that are selected to that there are 50-60 second year players mad that they weren’t. So do you become more driven to be a higher selection than that? Or do you rest on your laurels? From the time that I’ve spent with Jared and Kelly I envision them going to work even harder. It’s not without challenges when you’re honored in something like this. You’ve gotta be appreciative, you’ve gotta make the most of it but you still gotta get better.”

Listen below for the full interview:


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