While much of the talk amongst Boston Celtics fans this offseason has been about Kevin Love, Rajon Rondo and the 2014 NBA Draft there is one rather intriguing storyline flying under the radar. Avery Bradley is a restricted free agent who’ll surely decline the $3.6 million qualifying offer extended to him. Bradley likely regrets turning down the reported four-year, $24 million offer that Boston made to him during the season. Due to serious injury concerns and a relative lack of development on offense, it’s unlikely Bradley is going to get that type of deal from the rebuilding Celtics.
This is an issue that likely won’t be settled for at least a month as the deadline for the Celtics to make a decision on matching any offer Bradley receives isn’t until the end of the offseason. It’s doubtful they would make a rash decision before they see how the draft and trade market play out. If the Celtics acquire a solid shooting guard through one of those processes, there’s no way Bradley is back in green.
The real question is what is Bradley worth?
Maybe it’s more than $3.6 million, but it’s also far shy of the reported $8 million a year he was asking for out of the Celtics during the season. When assessing the market value of a player it’s important to throw personal affection out the window. You have to look at Bradley within the current contract structure of the league and find comparable players who have recently received contract extensions. That brings up another issue. Bradley, a tenacious defender but terribly inefficient offensive player, is unlike any other talented young guard in the NBA.
Let’s take a look at some recent extensions for NBA shooting guards. I’ll take into account their contracts and some important statistics such as Player Efficiency Rating, True Shooting % and Defensive Rating (the lower the better for that one).
That is somewhat alarming for Bradley. As the table above shows, he is an extremely inefficient offensive player despite making some strides. What’s really scary, though, is that Bradley is a guy who is valued for his one-on-one defense. But within the context of a five-on-five game, Bradley doesn’t actually help his team much more than other guards who are known more for their offense. In terms of defensive win shares Bradley (1.4) actually ranks behind Jamal Crawford (1.5), a player strictly known for his offense.
He also pails in comparison to one of the truly elite defenders at the position like Lance Stephenson (4.8). Being just 6-foot-2 hurts Bradley as well. He’s not able to switch onto bigger guys like most shooting guards. This all points to one fact: Bradley’s defense is extremely overrated because he makes highlight reel plays on that end of the floor. It’s exciting when he makes a steal in the backcourt, but it’s a problem when he attempts to do so and gets burned because there’s no Kevin Garnett on the back line to save him.
It was such a dreadful season for Boston that fans took any small positive and blew it way out of proportion. Bradley is a horrendous offensive player. This would be okay if he had Tony Allen‘s ability on defense, but he doesn’t.
Middling NBA franchises regularly offer young RFA’s hefty deals, so there’s a good chance somebody throws Bradley an offer north of $5 million a year. If that’s the case then the Celtics should let him walk. They don’t need to make a quick decision. Boston can wait and see how Bradley’s market value plays out and make a decision after they have a clearer direction post-draft. Bradley’s still just 23 and there’s room to grow, but there’s no evidence he’s any more valuable than Tony Allen, a guy the Celtics let walk after they drafted Bradley in 2010.
I’d offer him a three-year deal worth $13 million with a nice team option for a fourth in case Bradley develops. One thing is for certain, this will be one of the last decisions the Celtics make this offseason.