In the midst of a convincing 112-95 season-opening win over the Philadelphia 76ers, one thing was left to be desired from the starting lineup. After a promising preseason that showed signs of growth with his shooting and scoring ability, Avery Bradley disappeared in the first real game action of the year.
It wasn't just the fact that Bradley shot 2-6 from the field. Players have off nights and a low percentage from the field for one game is not that big of a deal. What was troublesome though, was how little he seemed to be involved in the offense. Only six shots from someone who led the team in minutes with 33? That tells me that Bradley was not as big of an option in the scheme as he should've been.
After averaging just over eight shots per game during the preseason and taking double-digit shots twice, Bradley's usage seemed to dip against the 76ers. Now all of this may be inconsequential if Bradley comes out and has a great performance against the Toronto Raptors tonight, but playing the most minutes and having such a limited impact on the game is more than a little concerning.
His plus/minus rating of zero definitely should open some eyes, too. If you think about it, Marcus Smart played 32 minutes on the game and finished with a +22 rating. That was the highest out of the starting five and second only to Evan Turner's +23. Considering the fact that Bradley and Smart are both defensive-minded players that can score at a decent clip who played virtually the same amount of time, I think it says something when their impact was so different. Smart obviously has a larger role in the offense being the starting point guard, but if Bradley is playing his best by harassing opposing perimeter players and knocking down his shots, the ratings should even out and Bradley should be able to put his stamp on each game.
I love AB and I really want him to take that next step, especially offensively. Consistency is going to be the biggest factor if he plans on continuing his growth and improving his three-point shooting percentage. The Celtics are going to need Bradley to score and defend the way we know he can in order for this team to perform at its peak.
Photo Credit: Brian Babineau/NBAE
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