Last season, the terms “comfortable”, “offensively” and “Avery Bradley” could only be used in the same sentence two different ways:
1) Avery Bradley was not comfortable offensively, or even close.
2) Offensively, Avery Bradley was as comfortable as a 400-lb. man riding a kiddie roller coaster.
But yesterday after Bradley played in the Impact Basketball League, A. Sherrod Blakely praised the young Celtic. There is now a third way to include the terms comfortable, offensively and Avery Bradley in the same sentence.
Avery Bradley — By far his best game of the week, Bradley looked very comfortable offensively before finishing with 20 points and four assists.
The Impact League doesn’t have the world’s best competition — other point guards include Damon Jones, who last played when Sasha Pavlovic was a legitimate starting small forward, and the level of play can perhaps best be described by a one-on-one duel that erupted yesterday… between JaVale McGee and Mareese Speights. But Bradley is using the league like his very first NBA Summer League. He missed summer league (and training camp) last season, so these seemingly half-organized pickup games could actually be an important step in his development. Sometimes, players just need to know they belong.
I sense that Bradley developed some confidence issues last season, and nobody could blame him. He was a raw, 20-year old rookie with only one college season under his belt, and not even a truly successful one – in his sole college campaign, Bradley averaged only 11 points and 2 assists. It was natural for Bradley to be overwhelmed by the competition, the dazzling array of Hall of Famers in his locker room, and the new playbook he needed to learn without the assistance of a training camp.
But the time for being starstruck is over. Year two needs to be a major step up for Bradley. He should feel more comfort. He should know the plays. He should start to show signs of progress. Nobody expects Bradley to become an All-Star overnight. But it would be nice to occasionally see the existence of a few vital signs.