The Boston Celtics have gotten off to a bumpy 8-6 start, and in most of the eight wins they have accumulated, it has not been smooth sailing. As a matter of fact, in six of the Celtics' eight wins, they have won by six points or fewer.
Boston has uncharacteristically been allowing over 100 points per game thus far, and for a team that prides itself on defense, that is not going to sit well in the locker room. Clearly, there are still some adjustments that need to be made, and one of those adjustments is getting Avery Bradley back from shoulder surgery.
Still, as key as Bradley is to the C's, he is not going to fix everything by himself.
Will Bradley help? Sure. We all saw his incredible perimeter defense on display last season, particularly against Dwyane Wade. He has lightning quick feet and is also very strong for his size, allowing him to competently match up against big, athletic guards (like Wade).
But he will not solve everything, and one has to hope that these issues will be worked on and improved upon by the time Bradley returns in what will likely be around January.
One of the Celtics' biggest problems defensively has been their lack of shot-blockers. Kevin Garnett, the team's best rim protector, is averaging only 0.8 swats per game. That is tied for the team lead with Brandon Bass. Sorry, but that is just not cutting it. As a team, Boston is averaging only 3.1 blocks a contest, good for second-to-last in the league.
Bradley has nothing to do with the intimidation factor in the paint. That's all on Garnett and the boys down low, so they need to do a better job of altering shots. The lack of shot-blocking has a lot to do with the fact that the Celtics are currently 27th in the NBA in opponents' field goal percentage, an area where they ranked first last year.
Another problem Boston has been having has been on the glass as the men in green rank last in the league in rebounds per game. The 6'2" Bradley isn't going to do much to change that. The rebounding issue may be a bit overblown, as the Miami Heat and the New York Knicks, two of the best teams in the league, rank 27th and 28th in that statistic, respectively, but it would still be nice to get better there.
Finally, the C's are still having some problems developing consistency overall, and that has plenty to do with the fact that guys who are used to seeing big minutes are having their floor time cut drastically due to the enormous amount of depth Doc Rivers has at his disposal. When Bradley returns, that will only be exacerbated.
Now having "too much depth" is a pretty cushy problem to have, but the fact remains that Bradley is going to take playing time away from a guy like Courtney Lee, and Lee has been struggling to find some regularity in his game as is.
Of course, we all want Bradley back, as having him to use as a weapon on both ends of the floor should end up paying dividends. However, it is putting way too much pressure on the kid to expect him to step in and be the savior. The Celtics have been having complications that the 22-year-old just can't fix. (Would you look at that? It's Avery's birthday today!)
All things considered, it is safe to assume that Boston will figure things out by the time Bradley comes back and that Bradley will merely serve as something of a midseason acquisition to bolster what is already a loaded roster.
Get well soon, Avery.