Running from today through the start of training camp, we’re looking at each of the players the Celtics have under contract for the 2011-12 season.
We start today with Avery Bradley, the Celtics’ second year guard out of Texas.
Bradley played only 31 games for the Celtics last season, averaging 5.2 minutes per game and shooting 34% from the field. He also got in 9 games of run in the D-League where he looked less overmatched than he did with the big league club.
Bradley just turned 21 this week so his development remains a longer term prospect for the Celtics.
1. What improvements do you want to see from Bradley in 2011-12?
Hayes Davenport: Lot of options here, but I only really care about his shooting, because that’s something he’s actually proven himself to be capable of. He shot 37% in the D-League, which is a 37% improvement on his NBA stats. It’s also about what he shot in college. Defenders are going to beg him to shoot until he proves he can, but proving himself as an outside threat would open up a lot of offensive opportunities.
He needs to stay on the court. Period. End of story. In order to do that, Bradley has to develop his handle and raise his offense to the NBA level. We all saw his on-ball defense last season. We all saw the athleticism this offseason
. With only six players under contract and little wiggle room to add reliable talent, Bradley fits the mold of the young, athletic, talented player the Celtics need in order to deal with the SEGABABAs. Play him 40 minutes a game and let it ride!
Brian Robb: The ability to run an offense semi-competently. After an ankle injury slowed his start last year, the 21-year-old looked lost when pressed into action at the end of blowouts during the season. Bradley can clearly put the ball in the hole, an area the C’s certainly need some help with, but he will have to show a grasp of the offense in order to get out there in year two.
2. How do you expect Doc Rivers to use him (if at all)?
Hayes: I think he’ll fill in as a third-stringer at both guard positions, then rise to backup point guard when Delonte gets injured in January. I could also see him wearing Red Claw red a couple times during the season. Some of Bradley’s usage might depend on the performance of E’Twaun Moore, a player picked 36 spots behind Bradley in a weaker draft. That’s not necessarily the kind of player Bradley was supposed to be competing with in his second year.
Brendan: Avery Bradley will be the backup point guard this season. It sounds crazy, but there are serious doubts as to whether or not the Celtics can sign another reliable point guard. Delonte West may be back, but he’s not a pure point. Do you really want to see a guy like Carlos Arroyo play point over Bradley? There has to be a point where the kid shows everyone what he’s made of. If it’s not this season? Trade him for someone who can help right now.
Brian: I expect to see Bradley in action, but he won’t be in the rotation until injuries force Doc to make that a necessity. As we all know, Rivers can be tough on his youngsters when it comes to playing time, and given Avery would only be a junior in college this upcoming season, expecting regular appearances seems farfetched unless the old guys need the rest.
3. What’s the career prognosis for Bradley?
Hayes: This is insane, but I think he could actually end up being a pretty solid 3-and-D shooting guard. The defense is already there and, again, his greatest offensive strength in college was his long-range shooting. I do not think he’s a point guard: he has zero court vision and dribbles like Igor. But his jump shot looks awesome! There’s no reason why he couldn’t chill in the corner and hit threes, then check the other team’s best guard on defense. His closest analogs seem like Raja Bell, DeShawn Stevenson, and Ruben Patterson, so maybe the next step is to start a feud with a player much better than he is.
Brendan: The sky is the limit for this kid. The upper limit. The lower limit is “out of the league after his rookie contract”. We just don’t know at this point. There were times last season when he looked like he didn’t belong on the floor. Then there were times last season (and this offseason) that his athleticism shined. This league has shown that if you can play defense, there is a spot for you (I’m looking at you Stevenson, Shane Battier, and Tony Allen). Bradley has great quickness and length. He needs more court time to develop those anticipation skills that could make him a dominant defensive player.
Brian: Ask me after this season ends. No one saw enough of Bradley to be able to make an honest assessment of his abilities. He’s a plus defender, has lots of speed, and reportedly has a solid mid-range jumper. It remains to be seen whether this can translate to the NBA level. We should have a much better sense of whether it does soon.
We’ll also cover Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo in 3-on-3 fashion before the end of the week.
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