2016 Awards Series Defensive Player of the Year: Avery Bradley

Marc D'Amico
Team Reporter and Analyst

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It’s awards season at Celtics.com! We’re handing out six awards over the next few weeks as we roll through this year’s Celtics.com Awards Series. We may not have trophies or acceptance speeches, but we do have some top-flight Celtics performances to outline. Here we go...

BOSTON - Avery Bradley didn’t lead the Celtics in steals. He didn’t lead them in blocks. Heck, he didn’t even lead them in defensive rating.

But he did lead them in support around the league as Boston’s top defender.

Bradley finished sixth in the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year voting, finishing behind only winner Kawhi Leonard, Draymond Green, Hassan Whiteside, DeAndre Jordan and Paul Millsap. Bradley earned 14 points in the voting process, while Jae Crowder garnered one.

Bradley’s rank among those who earned votes would seem to indicate that he is on track for his first appearance on the NBA’s All-Defensive First Team; he was a Second Team selection back in 2012-13.

The voting results stood as only one form of support Bradley received as Boston’s top defender. Players and coaches throughout the season singled him out, sometimes going as far as saying that he would be their Defensive Player of the Year if they had a vote.

Portland’s high-scoring backcourt of Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum made such remarks on March 31, after Bradley helped to limit them to 31 combined points – 15 below its season average – on 11-of-35 shooting.

“I told him he was the best perimeter defender in the league,” Lillard said after that game. “Because he is.”

McCollum later tweeted, “Avery Bradley (sic) the best perimeter defender in the league and I don’t think it’s close. Him and chief #firstteamalldefense”.

One night later, Warriors head coach Steve Kerr 1explained why Bradley is regarded by many as the best perimeter defender in the league.

“He’s got long arms, very quick feet and good anticipation,” Kerr said. “He knows what people are doing and he oftentimes jumps plays as they’re happening or before they happen.”

There is not much statistical evidence to prove that Bradley is Boston’s top defender. But the thing is, none of it is needed.

The words of Bradley’s opponents speak volumes, and that’s why he is the recipient of our Defensive Player of the Year award.