With Avery Bradley recently being named as a member of the NBA's All-Defensive 1st Team, the Celts are generating a discussion on how well the team played this year defensively. Not only did AB get named to the first team but he also garnered the most votes as a guard and was third in overall points/votes behind only Defensive Player of the Year Kawhi Leonard and Draymond Green:
Avery Bradley wasn't just top vote-getter at guard, he was third in points overall behind only Kawhi, Draymond. pic.twitter.com/YrCyNt0N8s— Chris Forsberg (@ESPNForsberg) May 25, 2016
However, Bradley wasn't the only Celtic getting recognition for their high level of defensive play. Jae Crowder finished with 47 votes, one shy of making it to the All-Defensive 2nd Team, and Marcus Smart also received 7 votes including 2 first team votes. Crowder was also a contender for Most Improved Player and given how much he progressed, it was great to see him getting credit for being a tough perimeter defender. Had he not gone down with an injury late in the season, Crowder would most likely have been a member of the All-Defensive 2nd Team.
Marcus Smart is also starting to gain a reputation for being one of the best defenders in the NBA at the guard position. His massive frame and strength for his position allows him to physical outmatch and smother most guards in the NBA. He also missed a large part of the season due to injury early on and would have likely gained more votes had he played more:
Smart got 2 votes for 1st team, which is kind of silly for someone who played <1700 minutes but is also a sign of things to come— Ryan Bernardoni (@dangercart) May 25, 2016
It's clear that the Celtics have built an identity as being one of the best perimeter defending teams in the league with three stars in Crowder, AB, and Smart on that end. What makes things look even better is that all three are under contract until the 2017-2018 season and for all they bring to the table, their contracts are a bargain:
Reminder: Bradley ($8 million/yr), Crowder ($7 million/yr) and Smart ($4 million AAV) are all under contract through the 2017-18 season— Brian Robb (@CelticsHub) May 25, 2016
With a young defensive nucleus on the perimeter that only continues to get better, the Celtics are poised to rise to the Eastern Conference's top tier of teams. As the leader on defense, Avery Bradley's star continues to shine and Coach Brad Stevens even went as far as to say that AB is worthy of being Defensive Player of the Year:
#Celtics coach Brad Stevens: Avery Bradley deserving of 1st Team All-NBA Defense. Would be worthy choice as Defensive Player of Year.— Scott Souza (@Scott_Souza) June 6, 2016
Stevens' statement is not as far fetched as it sounds. Many players and coaches around the NBA this season lauded Bradley as being of the best defenders in the NBA and that praise has resonated with voters this year. Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, Steve Kerr, were among the many who talked about his impact on defense:
Damian Lillard goes up to Avery Bradley after game: "I told him he's the best perimeter defender in the league... He's tough."— Steve Bulpett (@SteveBHoop) April 1, 2016
We've all watched and seen Avery Bradley grow since he was a young guard coming out of Texas to join the veteran filled team back in 2011. Now, five years later he's known as one of the best defenders in the NBA and his transformation has helped our other young players like Crowder and Smart to follow his lead on defense. Bradley's lateral quickness, great footwork, speed, anticipation, and hand usage makes him an absolute pest on for guards in the NBA. At times he looks like an elite NFL Cornerback like Darrelle Revis or Josh Norman with how well he stays in front of his man. Going forward, he's a key part of the Celtics future and it's been great fun watching his journey to the top of the NBA's elite on defense.
Image Credit: Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports
Follow Kevin Yazhari on Twitter @KevKevYazhari Kevin Yazhari 6/08/2016 11:22:00 AM Tweet Edit