Can Avery Bradley win the Most Improved Player Award?

Recently, Avery Bradley was asked about his goals heading into the 2015-16 season:

"For sure making the All-Defensive team," he told Wednesday in New York. "I would even love to get Most Improved if I continue to work and keep getting better, and prove what I can do on the offensive end. I think a lot of people kind of push that to the side, but I feel like the last few years – obviously I could have been better – but I feel like I've had a pretty consistent couple of years. If I can keep it going and even take it to another level, I feel like I can be in the talk for that as well."

Now, before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s take a look at the previous 5 recipients of this award:

2015 – Jimmy Butler

2014 – Goran Dragic

2013 – Paul George

2012 – Ryan Anderson

2011 – Kevin Love

During their winning campaigns, four of the five on this list became instant NBA stars and have remained that way. While Ryan Anderson hasn’t necessarily turned into a star, he did see a 5.5 PPG increase from the previous year, helping his Orlando Magic team make the playoffs.

If previous winners are any indication of expectations for Bradley, the 6th-year guard will need to continue to hound opponents on defense and elevate his offense drastically, with an emphasis on points and FG%. The average PPG of the previous five winners combined in their improved season is 18.8. Bradley averaged 13.9 points in 2014-15.

While it would be nice and give this year’s group a major boost, fans certainly aren’t expecting Bradley to score nearly 20 points on a nightly basis. If he were able to do that this season in head coach Brad Steven’s offense, one that prides itself in spreading the ball around, Bradley would not only win the award but could find himself in discussion for an All Star Game bid.

A more realistic expectation for Bradley is to improve as a consistent shooter and become more of a playmaker this year.

At the end of the day, isn’t this a goal you would want every player to set for themselves? As currently the longest tenured Celtic on the roster, comments like these show a concerted effort by Bradley to step into a leadership role that this young team needs. Placing a goal for improvement is something not only the rookies, but every player can get behind.

But if you’re a Celtics optimist, Bradley wins the award, becomes a household name around the league, and Danny Ainge is a genius for keeping him around. Throw in a Finals MVP too while we’re at it.

Photo Credit: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

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