How Avery Bradley's Absence Could Prove Beneficial over the Long Run
Despite the very important re-signing of Kevin Garnett, the loss of Ray Allen seemed to really steer the Boston Celtics towards the lower end of the NBA hierarchy.
However, upon closer inspection, the Celtics already have some buried tools that they could unearth, in house, to make up for the loss of Ray Allen.
The imminent returns of Chris Wilcox and Jeff Green were major upgrades to a depleted bench that really needed a face lift. Those two role players alone could really aid to fill Ray Allen's shoes.
However, with the acquisition of Jason Terry, a player who shoots almost as well as Allen from distance while playing without fear in the face of pressure, the Celtics seemed to improve their bench overall from the previous season, even without Allen. Furthermore, bringing in Courtney Lee bolsters the Celtics' lineup with an athletic shooter and defender.
In retrospect, the biggest boon for the Celtics in molding these parts and creating a cohesive unit in the wake of Allen's departure is the injury to Avery Bradley.
Despite how morbid this sounds, consider that Avery Bradley, a premier perimeter defender in the league, will be a starter upon his return.
During his absence, Courtney Lee should be inserted into the starting lineup and Jason Terry will get some run as the resident sixth man, a role he will continue to fill even after Bradley's return.
With Bradley out, Courtney Lee will get a chance to mix his efficient skills as an athletic shooter and defender with the rest of the Celtics. Although Lee isn't the defender Bradley has become, he does have more range on his jumper and can be a truly valuable player off the bench once Bradley returns.
By giving him some run as a starter during Bradley's recuperation, he will have more time to mesh with the rest of the roster and give Doc Rivers a myriad of options in order to test the most effective lineups.
Furthermore, Courtney Lee is no slob on defense. With his athleticism and quick hands, he has a career average of a steal per game and on the offensive end, his unspectacular field-goal percentage is contrasted by a superb three-point percentage of close to 40 percent from the field.
If he could develop his defense to come close to or even match Bradley's defense, his versatility on offense could really give Bradley a run for the starting job. This kind of in-house competition can only benefit the Celtics, who will have two viable starting options if Courtney Lee pans out during Bradley's absence.
Once Bradley returns, there will be a slight clog at the shooting guard position. However, they can utilize the four-guard rotation of Rondo, Lee, Bradley and Terry by utilizing Terry as a backup point guard during Rondo's brief spells on the bench.
Consider the fact that Doc Rivers always likes to have one of the superstars on his team on the court at all times. If Terry fills in for Rondo, it would be prudent for Doc Rivers to utilize Kevin Garnett as the focal point of that offensive line up. (Actually, it would be prudent for Doc Rivers to always run the offense through Kevin Garnett, and allow his scoring and passing abilities from the post to dictate the Celtic offense.)
By running the offense through Kevin Garnett, in the low or high post, Terry can still play the point, but as more of a cutter and scorer than a facilitator.
Although not completely efficient, remember that Rondo plays close to 40 minutes a game and this unorthodox lineup would only be brief setback while Rondo rests.
Bradley's injury clears the clog at the guard positions and allows for some chemistry building, while his return brings about a productive problem that spurs in-house competition that will enable these Celtic guards to bring out the best in each other to compete for playing time.
Although missing a starter is never usually a good thing for an NBA team, Bradley's absence may be the one exception.
The Celtics have suddenly become much deeper than they were the previous season, even with the loss of Ray Allen and the injury to Avery Bradley. These pieces will take time to mesh, and the increased playing time allotted due to Bradley's absence will go a long way in formulating true chemistry.
Once Bradley returns, the Celtics will be adding another tried and true weapon to an arsenal that has definitely been bolstered.
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