Prior to the 2010 NBA Draft, Avery Bradley was projected as a lottery pick. But an ankle injury saw his stock fall, and his agent Dan Fegan had to make a round of calls to general managers pitching Bradley as “The 2010 version of Jrue Holiday”. Danny Ainge was convinced and took Bradley with the 19th pick.
In his second season, Bradley has emerged as more than just a rotation player on the Celtics. John Hollinger of ESPN noted that when Rajon Rondo and Bradley play together, opponents average 82.2 points per 100 possessions. Or 20 points below the league average.
His teammate Keyon Dooling calls him “the best on-ball defender in the league”. Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau says he’s “terrific and able to guard guys bigger than him”. Lebron James acknowledged Bradley as “one of the best defensive players in the league”, perhaps after seeing this block on Dwyane Wade up close.
With an increased role and minutes, Bradley is starting to prove he’s not just a one-dimensional defensive stopper. His outside shooting continues to improve, last night against Atlanta, he set a career high with 28 points and adding four steals in the process.
He may have not received the most attention this year as a breakout player, not with Jeremy Lin’s emergence and Ricky Rubio’s superlative play, but no one can really match the impact of Bradley’s emergence.
photo via Flight Time