Boston Celtics: Is Avery Bradley Becoming an Offensive Liability?
Boston Celtics lock-down defender Avery Bradley has quietly been stuck in a shooting slump despite overwhelming success on the defensive end. In just his last five games, Bradley has shot 15-51 from the floor. He’s also been getting a lot of looks from beyond the arc, yet is shooting just 4-12 from long distance including a 0-5 from three point land last night in the Celtics’ harrowing loss to the New Orleans Pelicans.
It’s hard to critique a 22 year old on his shot since he’s still undeniably raw on the offensive end, but the question that’s starting to arise is whether it’s a mechanics issue in his shooting form or if the shots just simply aren’t falling. Bradley’s shooting form doesn’t look bad on the surface, the ball looks good coming out of his hands and although his shot has a tendency to get a little flat, they are usually at least on line. The concern that’s starting to arise with Bradley is whether or not he will ever be a knock-down shooter. The ball looks good coming out of his hands, yes, but in terms of a quick release and being a catch and shoot kind of guy, it still looks like he has far to go before opposing teams are afraid of him taking that shot.
Often Bradley’s shots look semi-forced and it seems that the more he misses the more he continues to crank up. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it’s getting to the point where he’s missing a good amount of shots per game. For a team that ranks toward the bottom of the league in offensive rebounds, more shots from long range is not a solution.
It most likely wouldn’t be such a growing issue if Bradley could find other ways to score, but the cutting to the basket part of his game and moving without the ball has suffered greatly without Rajon Rondo providing him with those crisp feeds under the basket. He could potentially shoot himself out of this slump, but if he continues to force up shots that don’t fall, the Celtics will have to question what he brings to the floor aside from unbelievable defensive presence. Last night Bradley had five steals, but do those five steals automatically cancel out eight missed shots? If the Celtics were an above average offensive squad then maybe, but when you’re starving for points it’s a different story.
More likely than not,Doc Rivers and the Celtics will live with Bradley missing a few shots here and there because of the simple fact that he’s elite on defense. However, if it starts to become a growing issue, then the Celtics as a team will have to find a more viable solution to space the floor more efficiently and try going for some different looks to solve their offensive issues.
He’s still averaging a solid 10 points per game over his last stretch, but Bradley’s shooting numbers are starting to look questionable. There is pressure on Bradley to “grow up on the job” at the young age of 22. He looks ready for the responsibility, the question is whether or not he’s capable.
Eric St. Cyr Covers the Boston Celtics for Rant Sports. Follow Him on Twitter @ericJsaint