Bradley Makes His First All-Defensive Team

BOSTON – Celtics players and coaches have been telling us for two years that Avery Bradley is one of the best on-ball defenders in the NBA.

It took a while, but we finally have proof that the rest of the league is now on board with that sentiment.

The NBA on Monday announced its 2012-13 All-Defensive teams and Bradley was one of 11 players who were included on that list. He was selected to the Second Team after narrowly missing a nod to the First Team.

2012-13 NBA All-Defensive Teams Voting
Pos Player 1st 2nd Pts
2012-13 NBA All-Defensive First Team
F LeBron James 25 2 52
F Serge Ibaka 17 12 46
C Tyson Chandler 9 6 24
C Joakim Noah 8 8 24
G Tony Allen 25 3 53
G Chris Paul 15 7 37
2012-13 NBA All-Defensive Second Team
F Tim Duncan 3 14 20
F Paul George 7 13 27
C Marc Gasol 5 2 12
G Avery Bradley 10 5 25
G Mike Conley 4 11 19

Bradley received 25 total points and 10 First-Team votes during the voting process, which consists of a ballot cast by each of the league’s 30 head coaches. A quick look at the balloting results shows how close Bradley was to making the First Team.

Only five players in the league received more total points than Bradley’s 25. Four of those players, Tony Allen (53), LeBron James (52), Serge Ibaka (46) and Chris Paul (37), were First-Team selections. The other player, Paul George (27), joined Bradley on the Second Team.

Bradley can claim that he received more total points than two First Team selections. Joakim Noah (24) and Tyson Chandler (24), who were both selected to the First Team as centers due to a tie, each received less total points than Bradley did.

The First Team is typically made up of two guards, two forwards and one center, which means that Bradley wasn’t able to make the team despite logging more points than Noah and Chandler. However, many NBA coaches clearly believe that Bradley is First-Team material.

Coaches gave Bradley 10 first-place votes, which is the fifth-highest total of any player in the league. His first-place votes trailed only Allen (25), James (25), Ibaka (17) and Paul (15). Bradley received more first-place votes than Chandler (nine) and Noah (eight), and tallied at least three more first-place votes than any other player who was selected to the Second Team.

Most impressive of the claims Bradley can now make is that he garnered more attention from opposing coaches than this season’s Defensive Player of the Year. Bradley’s 25 points and 10 first-place votes were more than Marc Gasol’s 12 points and five first-place votes. The league announced on April 24 that a panel of sportswriters and broadcasters had voted Gasol as the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year.

Coaches clearly feel differently. They were able to voice their differing opinions through the voting process. This was their opportunity to show their respect for Bradley’s defensive skills. Trust us when we say that such respect is very well deserved.

Avery Bradley defends J.R. Smith at Madison Square Garden

Avery Bradley has become famous for his ability to harass opposing players at the defensive end of the court.
Brian Babineau/NBAE/Getty Images

An eye test during every game indicated that Bradley made life difficult on every player he defended. Likewise, the numbers consistently tell us that Bradley made an incredible impact overall at that end of the floor.

Bradley’s game is all about harassing opposing players when the ball is in their hands. Each and every night, his goal is to make life difficult on the opposing team’s best scorer. He does so by invading that player’s space at all times with incredible ball pressure.

His defensive aggressiveness paid off in big ways this season for the Celtics. There is no denying the fact that they were a far better defensive team while Bradley was on the floor. Boston’s opponents shot just 43.8 percent from the field and 32.8 percent from 3-point range this season while Bradley was in the game. Those numbers were both lower than the percentages opponents put up against Boston while Bradley was off of the floor.

Ironically, those numbers stay exactly the same for the players Bradley defended individually. Point guards and shooting guards who were defended by Bradley this season combined to shoot 43.8 percent from the field and 32.8 percent from 3-point range.

Such percentages would be alarmingly poor for any perimeter player in the NBA. The fact that Bradley was limiting some of the best scorers in the league to those meager numbers means that the alarm should be blaring.

Bradley’s dramatic impact at the defensive end of the court has never gone unnoticed by the Celtics. They’ve claimed since Day 1 that he is one of the most talented defensive pests in the NBA.

After two seasons as a mainstay in Boston’s lineup, the rest of the league has finally jumped on the Avery Bradley bandwagon. He has officially been tabbed as one of the NBA’s elite defenders.