Name: Avery Antonio Bradley Jr.
Born: November 26, 1990
Birthplace: Tacoma, Washington
Team: Boston Celtics
Drafted: 2010 NBA Draft, 19th Overall
Position: Shooting Guard / Point Guard
When it comes to household names as far as ballers from the Northwest are concerned, Avery Bradley is probably not on many top 10 lists.
However, after taking over the starting shooting guard role for the Boston Celtics last season, that may change pretty quickly.
Born and raised in Tacoma, Washington, Bradley teamed up with current Washington Husky guard Abdul Gaddy to lead Bellarmine Prep School to a third place finish in the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association state tournament in 2008.
The next year, Bradley found himself at Findlay College Prep School, where in his senior year, he not only captured a National High School Basketball championship, but he was also ranked within the top five by many of the collegate scouting programs.
Following the hype that had him so highly ranked and recruited throughout his high school career, Bradley donned the “Texas orange” and suited up for the Longhorns for a single season. While his 11.6 points, 2.1 assists and 2.9 rebounds per game were impressive for a freshman—which included a season-high 29-point effort against Colorado to go along with four other 20+ point nights—the on court success during his first year in Texas did not quite mimic that of his high school career.
Finishing the season with a 24-10 record (9-7 in the Big 12), the ‘Horns squeaked into the postseason tournament with an “At Large Bid”. With the Texas Longhorns’ championship aspirations quickly extinguished by Wake Forest in an 81-80 OT battle, Bradley looked to further his pro basketball aspirations by adding his name to the NBA draft.
With The 19th Overall Pick
While many fans in Beantown were hoping to get some frontcourt help through the draft, Boston Celtics GM Danny Ainge went the opposite direction selecting Bradley.
Let it be known, at that point in the draft, the only “bigs” that were on the board included such names as Trevor Booker, and second rounders Hassan Whiteside and Jerome Jordan.
The good and bad about selecting Bradley was that the team already had Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo in the backcourt, two players who were secured in their roles. As a shooting guard, Bradley came into the draft hitting 43% from the field, 37% from downtown and a horrid 54% from the line, numbers that Jesus Shuttlesworth could hit in his sleep left handed. As a floor leader, his two assists per game didn’t exactly scream “distributor”.
With the veteran Celtics holding down their roster spots, Bradley found himself making a couple of trips down to the NBDL in order to help prepare the young combo guard for what might await him on the parquet floor.
In only 31 games for the Celtics, Bradley tallied about five minutes and just under two points a game. Sitting in street clothes behind the bench, Bradley watched as his club was sent home in the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals by the Miami Heat.
Although Bradley, the Celtics and his truest fans knew that he could provide offensively, it has been his effort on the defensive end of the court that helped warrant more playing time. That and an unfortunate/fortunate injury to Allen.
As expected, with more playing time came an increase in his statistical production, posting 7.6 points, 1.8 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game, and more importantly improving his shooting percentages to 49% from the field, 40% from deep and 79% from the charity line.
Despite Bradley posting four 20-plus point games during his second season, coach Doc Rivers noted that his importance to the Celtics lineup was due mainly to his energy and hustle on defense.
Combined with Rondo, the Celtics had one of the quickest and toughest backcourts to score on in the league.
Teaming Allen’s shooting and Bradley’s defense, the Celtics once again fell to the Heat, this time in the Eastern Conference Championship in a comeback seven-game series.
Unfortunately for the Celtics, the loss of Bradley during game four of their series with the Philadelphia 76ers left their bench a little shallow when taking on the eventual NBA Champions.
A Changing Of The Guard
With high hopes that Bradley, once healthy from his dislocated left shoulder, returns to the level of play he once promised, the Celtics now look toward the future. Gone is Ray Allen, who for five years held down the starting 2-guard spot.
Enter the Washington duo of Bradley and Jason Terry, a two-headed monster of youthful defensive energy and veteran scoring.
While Rondo will replace Allen as a face in the “Big Three”, the hopes for another championship banner and the future successes of the Celtics will be heavily impacted by the play of Bradley.