10 Reasons Why Bradley Will Bounce Back
BOSTON – The Boston Celtics have made some noise this offseason by retooling their roster and positioning themselves well for the future. What does all of that mean for Avery Bradley?
The hope is that it means Bradley will bounce back from a tough offensive season. He struggled in 2012-13, as all of his shooting percentages and per-36-minute statistics dropped in comparison to his 2011-12 campaign.
Those facts don’t hold Bradley back from being a great prospect. He is loaded with talent and simply needs to return to the level of play he displayed in his sophomore season. Here are 10 reasons why 2013-14 will help Bradley re-assert himself as a legitimate force at both ends of the court.
1. A Healthy Start
Bradley underwent surgery on his left shoulder on May 26 of last year, and then underwent surgery on his right shoulder on July 10. Those two procedures sidelined him for the entire offseason and prevented him from returning to game action until January 2.
Fast-forward to today and Bradley is more than a year removed from both surgeries. He is fully healthy and will be able to attack training camp with his teammates from Day 1. That will surely help him take some rhythm into opening night.
2. The Return of Rondo
We aren’t sure when Rajon Rondo will return to the lineup, but we know he’ll return at some point. That will be an important day for the Celtics and for Bradley in particular.
Bradley excels while playing off of the ball and getting open looks. Rondo excels at handling the ball and getting teammates open looks. The math makes perfect sense, doesn’t it?
Here are some numbers that support the notion that Rondo helps Bradley succeed: According to NBA.com/stats, Bradley shot 56.4 percent from the field and 51.5 percent from 3-point range in 2011-12 when he was on the floor with Rondo; on the contrary, he shot just 46.5 percent from the field and 23.8 percent from 3-point range when Rondo was not on the floor with him.
3. A Larger Role
With Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett now in Brooklyn, Boston’s offense will become much more balanced. That means Bradley is likely going to receive more looks at the basket.
Bradley set a new career high in field goal attempts per game last season with 9.6 a night. Don’t be surprised if that number jumps up a couple of notches next season, which would allow Bradley to put up more impressive scoring totals.
4. A Summer of Preparation
What was Bradley doing one year ago today? Nothing. Literally.
Two shoulder surgeries prevented Bradley from working on his game last offseason. He experienced regression, not growth. Things will be very different this time around, as Bradley will have this entire offseason to refine his game at both ends of the court. There’s no doubt that he’ll be a better player when he reports to training camp this season.
5. Growing Confidence
Bradley came into the league as a shy, quiet and seemingly nervous 19-year-old kid. He wasn’t comfortable with the media, and he seemed to be in fast-forward at all times on the court.
Bradley’s game and persona have consistently evolved since then. He’s now comfortable in front of the media, he carries himself like a veteran, and he plays at a pace that is conducive to the Celtics. This trend is due to Bradley’s growing confidence, which will surely continue to grow this coming season.
6. An Up-Tempo Offense
Look at Boston’s roster. It’s young, it’s energetic, and it’s athletic. Those characteristics are also likely to describe the type of offense Boston will run next season.
The Celtics are going to want to get out and run in 2013-14 in order to take advantage of their youth. That will help Bradley, because he doesn’t excel in half-court sets. He does, however, excel in the open court and has a knack for knocking down spot-up, corner 3s in transition. If the Celtics decide to run more often than not, you can be sure that Bradley will be running with them.
7. Depth of Knowledge
Bradley’s rookie season was essentially lost in 2010-11 after he underwent offseason ankle surgery. He missed training camp, which is an incredible detriment to any rookie, and then averaged just 5.2 minutes of action in 31 games.
The next season is when he burst onto the scene. He stole Ray Allen’s starting spot late in the 2011-12 season and has been in Boston’s starting lineup ever since.
All of that experience means that Bradley has a much greater depth of knowledge regarding the NBA game and the players he’ll defend. He has plenty of first-hand knowledge about the tendencies of guys like Dwyane Wade, Kobe Bryant and Joe Johnson. More knowledge equals more success.
8. Personal Importance to Season
As a 2010 first-round draft selection, the 2013-14 season is the final guaranteed season on Bradley’s contract. In short, if he and the team don’t reach an agreement on an extension by the NBA’s October 31 deadline, he’s likely in line to become a restricted free agent this summer.
With that fact in mind, this is a huge season for Bradley’s career. If he happens to hit free agency, his performance this season will have a lot to do with his next contract. That’s always ammunition to motivate a player throughout the season.
9. Less Pressure
Bradley has been the starting shooting guard for a team vying for an NBA title for the past two seasons. That’s a lot of pressure for a player in his early 20s.
The Celtics still have plenty of talent on their roster for next season, but they won’t head into 2013-14 with a “win-or-bust” mentality. With those incredibly high expectations lifted from his shoulders, Bradley (and many of his teammates, for that matter) should be stress-free both mentally and physically.
10. Return to Shooting Guard
Rondo’s ACL injury last season forced Bradley to handle some of Boston’s point guard duties. Playing point guard has never been one of his strengths, and it may never be.
Bradley will be able to shift back to his more comfortable position of shooting guard once Rondo returns to the lineup. He won’t need to handle the ball or orchestrate the offense. Instead, he can excel off of the ball on offense and save his energy for the defensive end.