The Boston Celtics have shown new life since the NBA All-Star break.
One of the main reasons for their resurgence is second-year guard Avery Bradley.
With his recent success, the question is should Bradley remain a starter when Ray Allen returns?
Boston fans have heard Danny Ainge clamor about Bradley’s ability and potential, and Bradley has shown flashes of that prior to stepping up during Allen’s absence.
Bradley’s shooting ability in particular has started to present itself, something that Doc alluded to in the past, but we had yet to see in game results.
However, since Allen went down with his ankle injury, Bradley has become a full-time starter and has taken his game to the next level.
More importantly, the Celtics have improved as a team. They are 11-4 with Bradley in the starting lineup and more notably have won five straight.
In the past five games, Bradley has averaged 14.6 points, three rebounds and 1.2 steals.
Bradley provides speed and outstanding defensive play to a first unit that has struggled in the first quarter, particularly on the second game of a back-to-back.
His ability to run on the fast break and make hard cuts to the basket in the half-court offense have brought another dimension to the offense.
Who should start in the playoffs?
Allen has become a decent defender since he was traded to the Celtics, but not even close to what Bradley is capable of.
However, after what we saw Bradley do against Dwyane Wade, Bradley’s ability to play suffocating defense also helps generate easy opportunities for the offense.
Not only will this help the Celtics in the upcoming playoffs, keeping Bradley in the starting lineup could help his development for years to come.
Bradley could use the consistent playing time to develop with better players around him and allow his confidence to grow.
Can Ray Allen Swallow His Pride for the Good of the Team?
There are concerns that Allen, a routine-oriented player, may not be able to transition to a reserve role.
Throw in the question about whether Allen’s ego will agree to a bench role and this becomes a difficult decision for Doc.
However, if Allen can return before the playoffs and ease into the role then he could be fresher and provide the second unit with the scoring punch that they have been lacking since Eddie House was on the team.
Who will return to the Celtics next season?
Combine that with a desire to win another ring and his experience, Doc may be able to convince Allen that it is what’s best for the team.
Moving past this season even if the Celtics can’t win a title this year, Allen could extend his career by becoming the sixth man for the Celtics.
Allen can become for the Celtics what Jason Terry is for the Dallas Mavericks.
Allen can be that spark that comes off the bench and requires opposing defenses to change their scheme when he enters the game.
He can also ease the offensive pressure off Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett halfway through the first and third periods.
What the Celtics Lineup Could Look Like Going Forward
Imagine a starting lineup in 2012-13 of Rajon Rondo, Avery Bradley, Paul Pierce, Brandon Bass, and Kevin Garnett returning as the starting center.
The bench could have Ray Allen and Jeff Green, second-year player JaJuan Johnson and Greg Stiemsma.
That is a solid nine-man rotation going forward.
This could be why Ainge was reluctant to pull the trigger at the trading deadline.
As nice as that would be, winning now is all that matters and having Bradley start gives this team the best chance to win.
The last time that a relative unknown replaced a starter in Boston, the New England Patriots won the Super Bowl behind the heroics of Tom Brady.
I’m not saying Bradley is destined to be the next Brady, but he could help the Celtics get banner No. 18.