We all know that Avery Bradley brings elite lock down defense to the Boston Celtics starting line up and that his value goes beyond numbers and stat lines. He brings a handful of intangibles to the game and hustle points across the board. However, if the Celtic’s want to make a run without leader and All-Star point guard Rajon Rondo, Bradley really needs to find a way to refine his offense and be a more reliable option at the two guard position for the Celtics.
Bradley’s numbers offensively through 16 games are decent, but not anywhere outstanding. He’s averaging 7.9 PPG. on 39 percent shooting from the field and 31 percent from beyond the arc in about 25 minutes per game. Last year we saw glimpses of Bradley being pretty reliable from the corner, and also saw the beginning of an above average pull up game in transition and the ability to create some offense cutting to the basket without the ball. Now that Rondo is out, the pressure is on Bradley to not just provide lock-down defense but to develop into a knock-down guy or at the least a viable offensive option.
As of right now the Celtic’s are clawing and grinding their way into elite status defensively as they are currently cracking into the top five in terms of opponents points per game. In the starting unit the Celtic’s now have not just one but two lock-down defenders in Bradley and Courtney Lee. To have two guys that can press and disrupt in this sort of defensive formula as well as providing some versatile type of offense is a luxury and the Celtics should feel lucky.
The only issue is the Celtic’s still hang in the bottom half of the league in terms of their offensive efficiency. In playing this “moneyball” style of basketball where the Celtic’s need everyone in the rotation 1-10 to score 11 points every night it would be key for Bradley or Lee to help pick up some of the scoring load, the two guards together right now pretty much equal one Rondo offensively averaging about 15 points per game. The Celtic’s could really use two to three more points per game from each of these guys.
The problem lies in the half court offense without a true point guard running the show. Doc Rivers has called for multiple ball handlers but I’m not sure that’s the correct recipe for success in the long run. Lee should be getting the bulk of the ball handling duties because of his speed and play making abilities.
In the last two games Bradley has seen far too much time with the ball in his hands trying to set the half court offense and it’s completely limiting his game. He’s a below average ball handler and having him try to learn how to play point guard on the spot is reducing his development and maybe hurting his confidence. The shoes are simply too big to fill. The Celtic’s should give Lee the full responsibility of starting at point guard and move Bradley over to his natural position. Lee’s versatility should be utilized more and he’s without a doubt the Celtic’s best ball handler in the absence of Rondo.