Avery Bradley's rise from young rotation player to the starting lock-down defensive shooting guard for the Boston Celtics gained the attention of many fans across the league.
However, a chronic condition that required surgery on both shoulders kept him out of the playoffs and will leave his starting spot vacant as the new season begins. It appears that the prediction of a late-December or possibly early January return to the court may become a reality as Bradley continues to rehabilitate both his shoulders.
At the end of September, Doc Rivers reported to Boston.com that, "[He's] not even close...I don't think you'll see him before December."
It appears that this timeline is still on track, as Bradley has yet to be cleared for contact and has been able to do limited basketball-related drills. According to Greg Payne of ESPNBoston.com, Bradley has just recently been cleared to perform shooting drills and weight training, but he is still probably a month away from full-contact practices.
The good news coming out of this report is that Bradley has not experienced any setbacks to date and has even started to see improvements in his jump shot.
The Celtics' guard may find himself back on the court in early December if the team decides to push the timeline, but Boston will likely ease him back into competing for his starting spot.
Until Bradley returns, all signs point to Courtney Lee starting in his place, which will certainly lead to great debate over whether Bradley will be able to and should take the starting position back when he returns.
Unless Lee performs far beyond expectations and builds chemistry very quickly with the starting line, Bradley has a very good chance off beating out Lee and returning to his starting role, especially if he is capable of putting up similar numbers to the 12.3 points on 50.5 percent shooting (46.5% for 3-pointers), 1.1 steals, 2.9 rebounds, and 2.0 assists per game while providing some of the most impressive on-ball defense by a guard in the league over the 28 games he started.
Hopefully, Bradley will continue to improve on the current timeline and will be able to return to the court before too much of the regular season has passed.
If he returns with the same level of ability that he showed at the end of last season, the competition for the starting spot may be short lived. However, you can expect there to be many articles and reporters arguing over who will rightly take the starting shooting guard position for the next few months.