In last year's NBA Draft The Boston Celtics made their highest selection since picking Gerald Green 18th overall in 2005. Immediately after the draft Avery Bradley needed arthroscopic surgery on his sprained ankle, the injury set back his entire training camp and coincidentally set back his rookie season.
Danny Ainge sold the fans on the fact that the 19 year old was a "lock down NBA defender right away". Obviously fans rolled their eyes at the statement, but after a 9 steal game during his stint in the D-League... people started to think that he may be the real deal.
In the last game of the season Bradley got a chance to prove his skeptics wrong. Avery had 20 points in 26 minutes with 2 steals, he started and got the Celtics a 10 point win over their eventual first round opponent.
This season Avery had really made a name for himself. With injuries to Rondo, Allen, and Pietrus, the 2nd year combo guard has made 11 starts and is averaging 9pts, 3reb, 2ast in those games. I'll be the first to admit that those numbers don't jump off the page, but what you don't see is the constant pressure Agent Zero can apply against opposing PG's. Rumor has it that Jameer Nelson actually asked Bradley to stop pressing him. In that game Avery only had 6 points but was without the key factor to the Celtics' 32 point victory.
Since that game against Orlando the 20 year old guard has been a fixture in the Celtics rotation, at first as Rondo's backup, then more recently alongside the Celtics All-Star PG. In just a few months Bradley has started to show his potential. He is an elite on-ball defender, has top of line speed, above average hands, an improving jump shot, and has also started to show that he can handle the ball while under some pressure.
Obviously Avery still has yet to prove himself in the postseason, but if he continues to become a reliable option there's a serious chance that Ray Allen is on the verge on losing serious minutes. At 6'2" Avery will always be considered an underdog as the starting SG alongside Rajon Rondo, but with the duo's perimeter defense you should always consider it an option.
Next season the Celtics will be in limbo. They'll either have The Big 4 back in town with pay cuts, have new big name free agents to build around, or they'll save the cap room for the following year and play mostly young guys. One of the consistencies with all three options would be Rajon Rondo, then another in Paul Pierce, but the third would be Avery Bradley... and that doesn't seem as scary as it did a few months ago. Jesse Dampolo 3/28/2012 10:30:00 PM Tweet Edit