COMMENTARY | While the Boston Celtics were struggling early in the season, fans anxiously awaited the return of Avery Bradley as a partial solution. In his limited time in the league, his numbers have never stood off the page enough to make anyone claim that he could solve Boston's issues. As a matter of fact, he never got significant minutes until last season, when Ray Allen was injured.
Bradley's calling card has been his intense ball pressure, something that is tough to recognize unless you actually watch the games. It doesn't always lead to steals, but it often leads to turnovers or a slowed down, less efficient offense. He badgers opposing point guards, and often forces opponents to operate under distress.
With Rajon Rondo suffering an ACL injury, Bradley has had the chance to show his value. His future may or may not be as a point guard, but he is proving that he will be an extremely valuable player in the NBA.
Offensively, it's clear that Bradley is very raw. His ball handling is average at best for a guard, and will certainly need to improve if he is to become a regular at point.
However, Bradley's offensive game has already improved drastically from when he entered the league out of Texas. He has become a respectable three point shooter, where he shot at over a 40% clip last season. Much of his value has proved to be as an off the ball slasher, which was most apparent when he was able to play off the ball while Rondo was healthy. On the ball, he has shown flashes of using his quickness to create easy shots for himself and for others.
It is no secret that Avery Bradley's full value is in his defensive ability. The ball pressure he applies bothers even the best of ball handlers, and he truly disrupts offenses on a nightly basis. As he plays more, he will begin to pick up some of the "tricks of the trade" that the best veteran defenders have learned over the years.
Bradley has the full potential to become Tony Allen defensively, who many consider one of the best perimeter defenders in the league. On the offensive end, Bradley has already shown more competence in 125 regular season games than Allen has in years.
He probably won't be an All-Star, or even someone you can build your team around. With that in mind, Avery Bradley has shown that in the near future, he can be one of the best handful of defenders in the NBA, as well as being an above average offensive player. He won't be a star, but Bradley can certainly be one of the better support players in the league.
Mark lives in the Boston area and has been covering the Celtics for 3 years. He has been featured on Fox Sports Yardbarker, Fox Sports, and Sports Illustrated "Hot Clicks", and has been published on Celtics 24/7, Bleacher Report, and Sports-Kings.