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Avery Bradley's defensive prowess is now drawing comparison's from Doc Rivers to past hall of famers.

Here's Rivers from an ESPN piece by Chris Forsberg:

It's like Scottie Pippen -- when you played the Bulls, you were praying that, 'I hope he guards the other guy tonight,' " explained Rivers. "Because [Pippen] was one of those guys that could guard the 1, 2, or 3. And you were hoping, 'OK, I hope [he guards the other guy].' I mean, how rare is it that you want Michael to guard you? Over Scottie.

"And I'm thinking that's Avery, and even Courtney [Lee]. Courtney's a good defender as well, but they're probably thinking, 'I'll take him over him.' And [Bradley's] feet are so good. I mean, he stays in front of the ball, he gets up into it, and it's big for us. He's really making us a better defensive team."

And this:

"You haven't seen guys get ripped at halfcourt the way Avery has done," Rivers said during his weekly appearance on Boston sports radio WEEI (93.7 FM) on Thursday. "He has a list of guys now. I mean, it's almost every single -- he got Westbrook, he did it [Wednesday] night to Lowry. You really haven't seen that since maybe Walt Frazier used to get guys, if you remember, with that strip at halfcourt. But to do it as consistent as Avery does it, I don't know if I've ever seen it."

At the beginning of the article, Forsberg lists off all the players Bradley has stolen the ball from this season. It's essentially a who's who of best guards in the league, with some other great big men thrown in for good measure.

This piece seems to be Forsberg's argument for Bradley as Defensive Player of the Year and he should certainly be in the discussion. It would be a travesty if Bradley does not make First-Team All-Defense, but best defensive player in the league may be a bit of a stretch, for now.

It's just too soon for number zero. There's no doubt that in a couple years, if Bradley keeps up the defensive pressure, he should absolutely be on the short list for the award. But in the NBA, it's not as much about "what have you done for me lately" as it is "what have you done the past few years." Bradley's only in his third season and still doesn't command the respect his defensive game deserves.

As much as it sucks, voters, refs and players have to be shown over and over that your game is legit before the accolades and respect come. The best example is another current Celtic. Kevin Garnett, probably one of the best defensive players ever, did not win the award until his first season in Boston, his 13th in the league. Other recent defensive no-brainers who had to wait: Dwight Howard won the first of his three straight awards in his fifth season, Tyson Chandler won in his 11th season, Marcus Camby won in his 11th season and Ben Wallace won the fist of his four defensive player of the year awards in his sixth season.

Bradley won't have to wait as long as Garnett, Camby or Chandler, but his fifth season seems about right. Until then, people like Doc and Forsberg will just have to keep trumpeting Bradley's amazing defensive ability so voters start to pay attention.

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@ericblaisdell13

Eric Blaisdell 3/15/2013 07:12:00 PM Edit
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