Avery Bradley is quietly making a name for himself in the NBA and developing into one of the finest young guards in the league. I have always loved Bradley and spoken highly of his potential during his entire time as a Celtic. Now, Bradley is making me look like a genius with his great play as of late.
Naturally, before this stretch of play, there were certainly plenty of people that doubted Bradley, and possibly there still are doubters. During his first year of play, he spent the majority of his time either on the bench or in the D-League.
Then, at the start of the season this year, it seemed that he would struggle to find minutes with a lot of competition in the backcourt. But, he worked his way into the rotation, and when Rajon Rondo was out, he took his spot in the starting lineup.
Now, with Ray Allen out, Bradley has contributed in a bigger way as the starting shooting guard during the Celtics' recent five-game winning streak. During this five-game streak, he is averaging around 15 points a game, with over 50 percent shooting from the field and over 90 percent shooting from the line.
Not only is he scoring at a high rate, but, like always, he is wreaking havoc on the defensive end with his relentless pressure defense.
How is he doing it though? How did he go from a seldom-used reserve to an effective starter with some of the highest potential in the league?
First of all, it is worth noting that Bradley was a great player in high school (some scouts had him ranked above John Wall) and college as well. Also, his athleticism is impressive as well and that was on full display when he won the McDonald's High School All-American Dunk Contest.
However, it did not seem to translate to the NBA at first. There is no doubt that Bradley's talent and athleticism is now on display in the NBA, but even that isn't all there is helping his rise to prominence in the league.
He is making an impact by doing everything that you are supposed to do, but few actually do. It is a joy to watch Bradley be so effective by doing what other NBA players aren't willing to do. While other players care about their offense first, Bradley plays hard on the defensive end first, then lets his offense fall into place. His care towards defense translates to an incredible amount of hustle and tenacity that makes him one of the best defenders in the game.
Bradley has also found his offense through constant movement without the ball, and more importantly, smart cuts towards the hoop for points in the paint. Few players cut like Bradley and few players reap the scoring benefits like Bradley.
He has also been able to get points off of his increasingly reliable jump shot. The more reliable his jump shot gets, and the better his handle becomes, the closer Bradley will get to All-Star status (and really, I wouldn't be surprised to see him as an All-Star someday).
Keep in mind, he is just 21 years old, and he is already one of the most effective young shooting guards on both ends of the floor by mainly just doing the little things. If Bradley can improve his skills ever so slightly and continue to play hard on defense and cut to the hoop, we could be watching the start to a special career.