Bradley Refocuses Energy at Stevens' Urging

Marc D'Amico
Team Reporter and Analyst

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WALTHAM, Mass. – Sometimes even the best players on a team need a little one-on-one time with their head coach.

On Thursday, that player was Avery Bradley.

“I had a long talk with Avery this morning that, a lot of people can score, a lot of people can handle, a lot of people can make plays with the ball,” Brad Stevens said. “Very few people can do those things and change the energy of the game with their intensity level. That’s a hard thing to do day-to-day, practice-to-practice.”

Stevens believes that Bradley can do it, and for good reason.

Rewind to the 2012 Playoffs and you’ll find that Bradley, not Kevin Garnett, was Boston’s energizer. He played the same role in 2012-13 while starting all 56 games that he appeared in.

That energy seemed to dissipate a bit last season while Bradley adjusted to an expanded role on offense. This season, Bradley wants to bring it back.

“I can’t control everything,” he said. “All I can do is control how I play and my energy every single game and every single practice. So that’s what I’m going to try to do: continue to stay positive and play as hard as I can.”

In other words, he wants to get back to his true roots as a shutdown defender.

“I’m a defensive player first. I let everything else come,” Bradley explained. “I know my team needs me to guard the best offensive player every single night, so that’s what I’m willing to do.”

Bradley is a terror for opponents when he focuses his energy on the defensive end. That’s why he was an NBA All-Defensive Second Team selection in 2013, earning more first-place votes than all but four players in the league. Last season, however, Bradley received only four total votes, which hit a nerve on the 23-year-old.

“I wouldn’t say angered,” Bradley said of the final tally, “but it just made me want to continue to get better on defense.”

This season, with a refocused mindset, Bradley wants to leave no doubt in the voters’ minds that he is one of the best defenders in the league.

“That’s my main goal,” Bradley stated. “I want to be on the (All-Defensive) First Team.”

Stevens plans to put Bradley in position to re-establish himself as a defensive star. The coach said on Thursday that Bradley will defend the opposing team’s primary ball handler much more often this season compared to a season ago.

Bradley seemingly cannot wait for that challenge to come down the pike. Thanks to a gentle nudge from his head coach, Bradley will put offense on the back burner and refocus his energy on playing like a defensive star.