Is Avery Bradley the Heart of the Boston Celtics?
Being the number 21 pick, many didn’t expect much out of the 19 year old Avery Bradley. Playing one year at the University of Texas, Bradley averaged 11.6 PPG, and shot 43.2 percent from the field. In Boston, he is now one of the best defensive players in the NBA and may be considered by many as the heart of the Boston Celtics.
In his first year, Bradley saw the majority of his time in the D league playing for the Maine Red Claws. Averaging 17.1 PPG, 5.2 APG, 4.8 RPG and an outstanding three steals per game, it was obviously time to call him up. Playing 31 games coming off the bench for the Celtics in the 2010-2011 season, Bradley averaged a mere 1.7 PPG, 0.5 APG, and shot a low .343 field goal percentage. Though it wasn’t a great rookie year for Bradley, everybody and their mother knew that he had tremendous potential.
In his second year in the league Bradley again came off the bench, seeing limited playing time behind stars Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo. Soon, after averaging 7.6 PPG, 1.4 APG and shooting .498, he quickly became an important part to the Celtics overall success. Playing 10 games in the Playoffs that season, Bradley averaged 6.7 PPG, 2.0 rebounds and shot .368 from the field. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough as the Celtics were booted out at the hands of LeBron James and his Miami Heat.
A big reason that the Celtics quest for championship number 18 was abruptly ended may have been because Avery Bradley was sidelined with a shoulder injury right before game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals. Though Bradley’s statistics on paper didn’t seem that impacting, his defensive game is what the Celtics were missing.
Having to undergo shoulder surgery in the off season was a big loss to the already weakened Boston Celtics. Next, star Ray Allen signed with the defending champion Miami Heat, for two years worth $6.32 million. Though Bradley was projected to start, the Celtics were smart in going out to acquire both shooting guards Jason Terry and Courtney Lee. They felt that both players were needed to fill the void that Allen left.
Along with acquiring Leonardo Barbosa early in the season, the Celtics were off to a slow start with a 14-16 record and under 500. When Bradley made his much anticipated return on January 2 in an away game against the Memphis Grizzlies, the Celtics surprisingly fell short 93-83. After this loss though, a healthy Bradley ignited the Celtics, and helped propel Boston to a six game winning streak, before losing to Austin Rivers, (Coach Doc Rivers’ son), and his New Orleans Hornets.
Now in his third year, Bradley is known throughout the league for his lock down D and his explosive play style. Though it’s been hard for him to consistently stay on the court due to nagging shoulder injuries, and his recent rib injury, he has still been able to average 7.9 PPG, shoot .403 from the field and has added 1.2 steals per game. With this type of play, the Celtics are hoping that they can make, what quite possibly may be, a final run with the “Big Three” at championship number 18.