Avery Bradley wants to be considered for Defensive Player Of The Year

It was clearly a special moment for Avery Bradley when he was presented his first team All-Defense award by Celtics head coach Brad Stevens at Friday night’s intrasquad scrimmage. The 25-year-old guard expressed his gratitude when speaking to reporters on Saturday, as per Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald:.

“I think it was cool,” said Bradley. “I appreciate him for doing that. Like Brad said, it’s important to recognize all the guys on our team that are able to accomplish some individual goals, like Isaiah (Thomas) last year with the All-Star (selection).”

Although the personal accolade that Bradley received means a lot to him, he has even bigger things in mind:

It is certainly the case that Bradley deserves to be considered in the Defensive Player Of The Year conversation. His incredible motor and willingness to learn have made him into an elite perimeter stopper.

According to Jay King of MassLive.com, Bradley previously felt as though he needed to become a good team defender before he could be a great individual defender and that the time he spent working on that is the reason for the recent acknowledgment:

“I've been consistent every single year,” Bradley said. “Like I said, it's hand-in-hand with how you play as an individual and your team's success. So how far we can go this year or how far we believe we can go, hopefully I can show, and the rest of my teammates can show, how good we are at defense as individuals. Hopefully the whole entire NBA can believe that I'm one of the best defenders out there. There's a few guys that believe in it, but hopefully I can get everybody to be saying it."

"My team defense has been better the last couple of years," Bradley added. "I know when (former Celtics assistant coach) Ron Adams was here that's one of the things he sat down and told me. He said, 'Your individual defense is good but your team defense is terrible.' And I stopped gambling, I stopped going for steals, I stopped doing all that, I stopped picking up full court. I just wanted to be solid so I could learn how to play team defense, so I could help my team out. I didn't want to be selfish. But now I feel like my team defense is better, maybe I can gamble a little bit more, maybe I can pick my spots, go for a lot more steals, play the passing lanes. I think that all comes with maturity and learning the game, and understanding it."

At the age of 25, Bradley is already thought to be one of the team’s leaders. He is a humongous part of Boston’s defensive identity and the organization is hoping that he can continue to develop even further on that end of the floor.

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Winslow Townson/AP