All About 18: Avery Bradley

If there is any other Celtic besides Rajon Rondo who makes Boston’s post-KG and post-Pierce future bright, it would have to probably be Avery Bradley.  Stolen Drafted by the C’s 19th overall in 2010, Bradley emerged this past season as a legitimate NBA force – especially on the defensive end where his on-ball pressure has given many opponents fits (this one opponent in particular, comes to mind).  Whenever the 6’2” 180-lb. Texas product teams in the backcourt with Rondo, the C’s defensive tempo goes into overdrive and opponents bear the pain (witness here).  Hence, The Game Changer.

Bradley’s rise, however, isn’t limited to one end of the floor.  His ability to hit the corner three (shot 41% 3FG last season) and cut through the backdoor successfully have made him a reliable source of offense.  After averaging just 1.7 ppg off-the-bench in his rookie year, Bradley contributed 7.6 ppg in 2011-12 as a budding starter – including a six-game stretch in mid-April when he burned the hoops for 20.5 ppg on 59% shooting (incl. 12-of-18 from behind the arc).  For his superlative effort, Bradley received consideration as the Eastern Conference Player of the Month for April.

Bradley had gotten so good, in fact, that he supplanted a veteran starter last March and never looked back (much to the disappointment of that veteran).  Only the frailty of his shoulders slowed him down.  Tweaking a pair of weak shoulders during the early rounds of the playoffs, Bradley had to end his remarkable season abruptly – bowing out in the second round when the Celtics felt the 21-year-old’s future health may be in jeopardy (much to Bradley’s disappointment).

Now although Bradley’s already had surgery on both shoulders (last May and June), recent word from coach Doc Rivers is that he is “nowhere near ready” for training camp and that his return may not be seen until late December or early January.  While Bradley recovers, newly-acquired Courtney Lee should warm his starting 2 spot until such time that the Game Changer will be ready to go and turn up the C’s drive for #18.