With the 19th pick in the first round, the Boston Celtics selected Texas Longhorn guard Avery Bradley. The casual fan may not even know that Bradley is on the roster, as he has seen very little playing time during his tenure as a Celtic. In the few minutes Bradley has logged, however, he has been able to give us a taste of his game.
Bradley has proved to be rather timid running the point on the offensive end. In his time on the floor, he typically passed off the ball and disregarded a look at the basket. His inexperience as a rookie showed, and so did somewhat of a lack of confidence.
Defense has been a different story. This kid is a smothering defender. He makes the opposition feel uncomfortable, and it shows. Sometimes it happens in a way that probably goes unnoticed, and the opposing guard will be forced to pick up his dribble or pass off the ball. On the other hand, Bradley has had some spectacular highlight plays.
Look at Wednesday night’s game against Sacramento. With about 30 seconds left in the
4th, Bradley was hanging back a bit on defense, and came bursting into the passing lane coming up with a Rondo-esque theft. He broke away heading the other direction and finished the play with a powerful slam. That was not the first we have seen of Bradley’s defense. He earned the play of the game for a look-alike play in a match up earlier this season against Charlotte. “He’s very physical,” Rondo said. “He gets through the picks, he gets up into you, he turns you, makes you dribble with your back to the basket.”
Something more remarkable than his defense, and frankly much more crucial, is Bradley’s passion. The intensity of this kid is what drives his game. His drive to excel is undeniable, and the players see it too.
“I really like the kid, actually,” Pierce said referring to Bradley. “I see how he works and soaks up so much in practice and you can see him wanting to get better. He’s always asking questions and he’s always in the huddle.”
“He’s a great listener,” Rondo said back in November. “That might not sound like much, but that’s big for a young guy to come in. He’s very humble. He works extremely hard. He’s going to be a great player in this league someday when he gets his opportunity. I always tell him to stay ready.”
The potential in this Texas Longhorn star is through the roof. Like OKC star Russell Westbrook, Bradley came out of a big time program as a shooting guard and is now making a transition to man the point. The Celtics are one of the deepest teams in the league, so playing time (especially behind Rondo) is scarce. Bradley didn’t have the opportunity to participate in summer training with his ankle injury, which was a major setback to his progress. Recently, the Celtics assigned Bradley to the Maine Red Claws. There he can get adequate playing time and develop his skills—something he didn’t get a
chance to do in summer and preseason.
Perhaps what is most exciting is Bradley’s position in about 2-3 years, when the Celtics will probably be a rebuilding team. Perhaps by then, he can have a major impact on the Celtics as the backup to Rondo. Or perhaps he will take on the role of his more natural position at the two guard. Of course, it is rather difficult to speculate how things will be then, and even whether or not he will still be a Boston Celtic.
All speculation aside, the potential of Avery Bradley is almost overwhelming, and while we all watch our seemingly ever-depleting Celtic troops trudge on toward banner 18, I’ll have an eye out watching the progress of number zero.
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