Once Avery Bradley returns from his never-ending ankle sprain, what should the Celtics expect from him?
Nobody really knows. We suspect he might become a Lindsey Hunter-like defender. We suspect his offensive skills are raw. We suspect his athleticism will be exciting. We suspect his ankle wasn’t merely sprained. But before he plays a single NBA second, how can we really know?
We can’t. But CelticsBlog’s Kevin Henkin did a nice job trying to find out (and also gets extra points for crediting me for the Lindsey Hunter comparison). He interviewed two Texas beat writers and Bradley’s former high school coach. Here’s an excerpt of the piece:
“When [Bradley] is playing point guard, I think he’s thinking about it too much,” Anderson said. “He’s not as natural at the position so it hurts his defense as well, when he’s too caught up in trying to be a point guard and trying to run the whole court. When he’s playing the shooting guard, his offense is much more natural and it translates to him not over-thinking his defense.”
Rosner concurred: “Two former college coaches told me early on that they thought he could play point guard. I don’t think the Texas coaches agreed, and frankly, I don’t think he showed great vision when he dribbled. On the other hand, he is unselfish and willing to pass.”
Rosner also offered up a couple of additional observations about Bradley’s ball handling skills. “His handle is decent, not great. He didn’t go to his left much, which was noticeable.”
As for basketball IQ, Anderson’s opinion on Bradley’s was mixed.
“The NBA scouts had his physical and talent level off the charts, ten out of ten the whole way but the mental and physical preparedness were lower. I think he could have benefitted from more time in college. He’s got a fair basketball IQ but he relies much more on his natural talent.”
So what should we expect from Bradley? I’m starting to think nothing — it’s almost impossible for an already-raw rookie to skip most of training camp, then a good chunk of the season, and somehow return ready to crack the rotation of a super-deep champion contender.
Down the road, though? Keep an eye on Bradley. He’s got the athleticism and defensive mentality to make a legitimate impact.