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By Clint Corey

Ever since Avery Bradley arrived in the league, a fresh faced nineteen year old having played one year of college basketball under Rick Barnes at the University of Texas, there has been some sort of ailment or extenuating circumstance that has prohibited him from participating in a complete Celtic training camp. As Jim Fenton from The Enterprise reported:

As a rookie in the fall of 2010, Bradley was unable to be a full-time participant after undergoing left ankle surgery in the summer.

Then came the NBA lockout in 2011, when Bradley could not use the team’s training facility during the offseason and went through a hurry-up camp in December.

A year ago, there was no training camp at all for Bradley, who was recovering from double shoulder surgeries after having the previous season halted in the playoffs.

Bradley, however, was ready to go from opening day after a full summer of preparation for this season's training camp:

“It feels good,’’ said Bradley after practice Sunday afternoon. “I’ve been making a lot of improvement in my game. I feel good about everything.

“You kind of get a rough start (without a regular camp). I get a rhythm now and I feel more comfortable going out there playing the preseason games. I feel like I’ll be ready for the season.’’

Bradley, in fact, is the second most tenured Celtic behind Rajon Rondo, which means come opening night he will be the most veteran active Celtic on the roster. Pretty heady stuff for a 22 year old.

Bradley will start at point guard when The Celtics take the floor November 1st against the Milwaukee Bucks. This means he will probably spend the majority of the night checking league savvy Luke Ridnour.

On the defensive end, the one area that should benefit Bradley the most in Rondo's absence, is taking over as the vocal defensive leader void that Kevin Garnett left with his departure to The Brooklyn Nets. After all, just as a straight up one on one defender we know Bradley can stick with the best in the league. It should also help to improve his pick and roll on the ball defense which will help in Brad Stevens defensive schemes because Stevens has been known to change his defensive strategy in this area incredibly frequently.

Coach Stevens likes to change how they will defend the pick and roll every media timeout. Mixing it up every four minutes gives his opponents things to think about during the game. This philosophy also makes Butler’s opponents use precious time working against traps, hard hedges, soft hedges, switches, going over, going under, etc. in the practices leading up to the game.

On the offensive end playing more point will improve Bradley's leadership abilities as well as just giving him a greater understanding of the many nuances of Brad Stevens' motion offense. It will also help Bradley's timing on back door cuts once Rondo comes back. Bradley is already amongst the league leaders in his ability to move without the ball, a lost art in the NBA, playing point will only help him to improve in this area.

Finally, The Celtics are going to be challenged offensively this season with very few players able to create their own shot with the exception of Rondo and Jeff Green. Although, we've seen Rondo be an offensive juggernaut when he needs to be, he is most effective when he can find teammates in their sweet spots on the floor. With Jeff Green now the number one offensive option he is going to be going against some of the league's best defenders on a nightly basis. Bradley's continuing development of his handle will make him at least serviceable off the bounce once Rondo comes back and will put some penetrating pressure on the defense taking away from Green's unenviable load.

Make no mistake, The Celtics will go through some growing pains this season. However, Avery Bradley becoming a more complete player will definitely hugely benefit the franchise in the long run.

Follow Clint on Twitter @coolhandc







Clint Corey 10/07/2013 06:46:00 PM Edit
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