With the departure of Tony Allen in the offseason to the Memphis Grizzlies, the Celtics lost one of their greatest role players. Tony was the guy to guard the other team’s best perimeter player, whether it be Joe Johnson, LeBron, or Kobe. To help fill the void, the Celtics used the 19th overall draft pick on Texas guard Avery Bradley.
Bradley entered his freshmen season at Texas with lots of hype. Once proclaimed as the best high school recruit of the 2009 class, Avery Bradley didn't quite live up to his ranking. When he decided to leave the Longhorns after one season, only questions and talk of potential surrounded him. The Longhorns struggled in the second half of the season, but Avery showed flashes that convinced scouts that he’s ready for the NBA.
The Celtics need a bench player who is capable of guarding the opponent’s elite perimeter player. Paul Pierce and Ray Allen need to save their legs for the playoffs, presenting Avery Bradley with the opportunity to step-up. Amongst his peers, Bradley was ranked as the best rookie defender. Doc Rivers has already raved about Bradley’s ability on the defensive side of the ball. “He has unbelievable speed," said Rivers. "He’s an NBA defender right now. He can play point guard defense on anybody in the league, and that’s huge for us.”
Avery has a quality offensive game that showcases a strong mid-range game and an improving pick and roll style of play. Unfortunately for him, the Celtics have attempted to address their bench struggles on the offensive end by the signing of Von Wafer, old friend Delonte West, and the re-signing of Nate Robinson. Defense is the key for Bradley as well as the Celtics. If the other guys struggle playing defense, Bradley will have his chance.
The best part about Tony Allen is that he can guard point guards or he can (try to) guard small forwards. Avery Bradley is only 6'2'' and really needs to add to his frame. He is still recovering from offseason ankle surgery and missed his chance to perform in the summer league. Avery will have a chance to show he can play, but Doc can't afford to let him struggle and take up a spot on the court.