If the 2012-13 season goes the way that Boston Celtics fans hope it will, it could shape up to be Avery Bradley's time to shine. Bradley came out onto his during the shortened post-lockout season, establishing beyond doubt that he has the potential to be one of the best defenders in the league. Nevertheless, with a dislocated shoulder bringing his presence on the court to an abrupt end during the playoffs, his full potential has yet to be realized.
Accolades from fellow fans and media in Boston are one thing, but recognition from the league is another. Considering the fact that Bradley was able to go toe-to-toe with Dwyane Wade and Russell Westbrook, it's not a stretch to imagine that Bradley could get a First-Team All-Defensive nod before the season is out.
Bradley has nothing to prove when it comes to perimeter D, that's beyond doubt. If Bradley is able to stay healthy as a starter, the 21-year-old is going to strike some fear into the Celts' opposition this season. But despite AB's tremendous talent, there are reasons to be concerned.
As soon as Bradley had healed from surgery on his left shoulder, he had surgery on his right shoulder, the latest taking place just last month. While he should have more than enough time to get healthy, the Cs' FO isn't expecting him to be putting in minutes on the court until as late as mid-December. Will he still be able to shut down bigger players when he recovers? Bear in mind, Bradley is 6-foot-2.
Luckily, Bradley's speed won't be affected, and he'll need it to get open on cuts the way we saw last season. Bradley's shot discipline is pretty solid; he ended last season with a .498 field goal percentage and .407 from behind the 3-point line. Getting to almost 50% from the field is a big improvement considering the accuracy of Bradley's shooting the year before.
AB averaged 7.6 ppg and put in almost 1,400 minutes last season, but that doesn't tell the whole story. Towards the end of the season, Bradley was scoring in the high teens and low 20's. While it seems clear to this fan that he'll end the season with a double-digit average, 15 ppg overall would be pretty solid progress.
Bradley's offense has been inconsistent at best, and his raw speed and athleticism won't amount to much scoring if he isn't able to improve ball-handling and passing. The potential for fast-break style play with Rondo is intriguing, but Bradley must improve his offensive IQ between now and the start of the season.
Taurus Londono has lived in Massachusetts for over ten years. He is a longtime fan of the Boston Celtics.