Re: What to do with Avery Bradley
posted at 8/18/2013 3:01 PM EDT
At only 22 years old, its too early to make any call on Bradley, but his upside is very very high. Lets take a look at what we do know:
Bradley was ranked the #1 recruit in the 2009 high school class, higher than Wizards point guard John Wall ($80 million).
At Texas, Bradley averaged 11.6 points, 2.9 rebounds and 2.1 assists during his one season and and as a result of a less than stellar showing, Bradley slipped to the Celtics who selected him with the 19th pick in the 2010 draft.
Bradley played in just 31 games during the 2010-11 season, averaging only 5.2 minutes in the few games he did appear in. He began the season at just 19 years old, the youngest player in the NBA.
In the 2011-2012 season, Bradley was able to showcase his ability to lock down opposing guards, but through 29 games Doc only played Bradley an average of 16 minutes per game , scoring 3.7 PPG and shooting 43% from the field.
But when Allen went down with injury, Bradley got more playing time and he began burying corner threes and over the last 37 games of the 2011-12 season Bradley played 25.1 minutes per game, scoring 10.4 PPG and shooting 52% from the field and an amazing 49% from three. All of this while allowing only 0.72 points-per-possession (PPP) on defense, the 29th best number in the NBA.
But then, injuries to both shoulders impacted his shot and effectiveness and he was shut down for good during the 2012 2nd round playoff series with Philadelphia.
The injury caused Bradley to miss the first 30 games of the 2012-13 season, and when he returned the offensive efficiency we saw the previous season was missing. Bradley did average a career high 9.2 points per game, but shot only 40.2% from the field and 31.7% from deep.
Defensively Bradley didn't miss a beat in his return, evolving into one of the most dominant defensive guards, 16th best in the league, and earned 2nd team All-Defensive honors. However, nobody should have expected him to perform better than he did, being suddenly thrown into a new role at the PG position.
Following this season Bradley will become a restricted free agent (Celtics can match any offers) unless he and the Celtics reach an agreement on an extension by the NBA's November 1st deadline. Considering Bradley's history it's likely that Stevens will want to see what Bradley does this year before committing big money to him going forward.
Contractually, Tony Allen is probably the closest comparison to Bradley
Tony is much older at 31, is also a lockdown defensive specialist, but has a little better offensive game. Allen was recently given a 4 year $20M deal.
I believe that Bradley never had the environment under Doc to develop his confidence. Once he had the chance, he excelled, then went down with injury. When he was ready to play, he was thrust into a key role and he wasn't ready mentally or physically. He has a great attitude and work ethic. and he proved that he has the potential.
If Bradley has a similar season to last year (great defensively, poor offensively), I'd expect his value at about $3-4M/year, and he would be available for the right trade. However, if Bradley shows that he has regained the consistent offensive potential he showed in 2011-2012, and given his youth, I would immediately lock him down for a 4 year $25M. With a consistent outside shot, Bradley could become one of the most valuable SGs in the NBA and a key long term foundation to the team.