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Avery Bradley is starting to feel it offensively and that's bad news for the rest of the NBA.

Bradley scored a season-high 22 points last night against Philadelphia and as ESPN's Chris Forsberg points out, those points didn't come from just one aspect of Bradley's 10-for-15 game.

Bradley did a little bit of everything on the offensive end, knocking down a couple of 3-pointers and producing one particularly thunderous fourth-quarter follow slam. But he was also 4-of-5 shooting in the midrange, showcasing that in-between jumper that Rivers always believed he had in his repertoire.

The defensive prowess of number zero is well documented (Forsberg says Bradley's a legit Defensive Player of the Year candidate, but that seems a bit strong as voters usually go with more established players for that award), but if Bradley all of a sudden becomes a dangerous two-way player, the league will be put on notice.

Forsberg points out that while Bradley is only averaging 9.7 ppg on 43.1 percent shooting this season (28 games), he's gone off for 13.8 points on 57.4 percent shooting in the last five games. Fifty-seven percent from the floor is ridiculous. No way he keeps shooting that well, but if he stays over 50 percent then he will have to be a guy other teams guard closely, which opens up the rest of the floor for Paul Pierce, Jeff Green and the other slashers.

In typical fashion for young talented players on veteran squads, Bradley's growth spurts happen after a key piece of the team gets hurt. He replaced Ray Allen in the starting lineup last year and held onto it after showing how great his on-ball defense is. And without Rondo, Bradley's stepped up his offensive game and has even shown he can be a capable passer (3.2 apg in his last five).

The two words that need to keep bouncing around Bradley's brain are consistency and confidence. He's starting to show the confidence, but that can fade as quickly as it arrives in young players.

Consistency has always been the issue with Bradley's offense as he's shown flashes of knocking down threes and slashing to the basket only to totally disappear for stretches in other games. But with Rajon Rondo out for the year and Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett expected to sit more as the playoffs approach, Bradley should get plenty of opportunities to refine his jumper and keep building that confidence.

A very promising sign for Bradley's career is the more responsibility he gets, the more he improves. With the reemergence of Jeff Green, it's hard not to get excited about the future of this team. The knock on Bradley was that Boston was starting a guard next to Rondo who couldn't shoot, giving the Celtics two guys in the backcourt without a jumper. Well, if Bradley keeps up his “score from anywhere” output, there won't be much for the critics to say except, “stay away from Boston.”

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@ericblaisdell13

Eric Blaisdell 3/06/2013 06:05:00 PM Edit
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