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Bradley (right) has made life tough for opponents.
In 2013-14, Avery Bradley will become an even better defender.
Yes, you heard that right.
Over 50 games last season, Bradley was a force on defense. According to Synergy Sports Data, via ESPN Boston’s Chris Forsberg, the 22-year-old limited opponents to just 0.697 points per play. Furthermore, opponents shot only 30.8 percent against him while scoring 31.8 percent of the time.
All three marks were a league low among players with at least 475 total defensive possessions.
However, this season, expect to see Bradley off the ball a lot. More specifically, he’ll be assigned to slow down the opposing team’s biggest scoring threat.
Thus far, it’s worked well.
Head coach Brad Stevens first implemented the strategy during the Celtics 111-81 win over the New York Knicks on Oct. 12.
With many of the Knicks sitting out, Bradley was assigned to pressure Tim Hardaway Jr., the same player who scorched Boston for 16 points on 6-of-10 shooting during the two teams’ previous meeting.
This time out, the 21-year-old looked more like the rookie he is. Thanks in part to suffocating defense by Bradley, Hardaway Jr. was held to just nine points on 3-of-16 shooting.
Three nights later, against the Brooklyn Nets, Bradley took on a tougher challenge in Joe Johnson.
Although the Celtics lost 82-80, it wasn’t at the hands of Johnson. The 32-year-old was just 2-of-6 from the field with six points.
While Bradley may still be struggling to find his own shot—36.9 percent shooting in six games this preseason—he’s done a phenomenal job making sure opponents can’t find theirs either.