The Philadelphia 76ers had some great center depth earlier in the season. While they still have future Hall of Famer Dwight Howard backing up Joel Embiid, they did have a young center who was making a name for himself before he was shipped to the Oklahoma City Thunder in the George Hill trade.
That young center was Tony Bradley who took over the starting center spot when Embiid was out with an injury and he played very well. He averaged 9.3 points and 6.8 rebounds in eight games with the Sixers, seven starts, after the All-Star break before the trade.
He was making steady improvements all throughout the season and coach Doc Rivers was fond of him.
“He’s just a pro man,” said Rivers. “First of all, he’s a terrific kid. He’s the type of kid that you want on your franchise, you want to keep on your franchise as much as you can. He worked his butt off.”
Bradley entered Philadelphia needing work. He needed to polish a lot of different parts of his game and he needed to lose weight. Rivers and the coaching staff drew up a game plan for him and he followed it to a T which is what the team wanted from him.
“A lot of guys who are like that, won’t do the work,” Rivers explained. “You’ll tell them they need to do the work, you’ll give them a game plan that you believe leads as a coach and a coaching staff that can make the kid individually better, and you’ll be surprised how many guys, they won’t hear it, they won’t listen, they’ll do their own thing. Tony wasn’t one of those.”
Being only 23-years old, he still has a long NBA future ahead of him. He is still such a young guy and he fits right in with the Thunder timeline. They are a rebuilding team that needs a lot of younger talent and Bradley will be able to make an impact in Oklahoma City.
“Just a fantastic kid and he’s young,” the veteran coach finished. “I think a lot of people forget that how young he is. I think he has a bright future in the league. He’s one of those guys, you would love to coach again for sure.”
The Sixers and the Thunder will battle at 9 p.m. EDT from the Chesapeake Energy Arena.