When the Boston Celtics drafted Avery Bradley, it was with the intent to turn him into a point guard, one who could either spell Rajon Rondo or slide over to shooting guard on occasion to form a small backcourt that would pose all kinds of ballhandling issues for other teams. However, after a year in which Bradley failed to make progress as a lead guard, Doc Rivers has scrapped the Avery Bradley point guard experiment, at least for the time being. (Boston Herald)
“He’s feisty, tough, he can guard the 1 and the 2 and make big shots,” Rivers said of Dooling. “He’s clever. It’s really helped Avery. Avery has no ballhandling responsibilities. He’s playing a pure 2 right now, and it’s freed him up to play. Keyon has created two players, because Avery is better that way. You watched Avery last year. I thought he was paralyzed when he had to run the position, when he had to call plays. In the 3-on-3 pickup games he was terrific, so that told me, ‘Well, let’s make him that, and stop trying to make him a point.’ ”
I like the way Rivers describes Bradley running the point: He was paralyzed when he had to run the position. A damning, not to mention almost entirely accurate, quote.
The problems with Bradley right now are not singular: he can’t play point guard, he’s not a great scorer, his skills are raw and he lacked confidence, at least last season.
The comparison between Bradley and Tony Allen has been made on occasion, a comparison I understand because of Bradley’s obvious defensive capabilities. But there is one major difference that could hinder Bradley. Allen was more versatile defensively — because of his build, he was able to defend anybody from Chris Paul to Lebron James. Bradley does not have the same physique, limiting his defensive assignments solely to guards, meaning he might not be able to convince Rivers that finding minutes for his on-ball defense is worth it — at least until Bradley develops a reasonable offensive game, preferably including a stand-still jump shot to assure that Boston is not playing 4-on-5 whenever he’s on the court.
It’s possible to earn a spot in Rivers’ rotation using just defense. Allen did so a couple years ago despite a myriad of offensive deficiencies, earning his way onto the court even while displaying decision-making skills that probably woke Red Auerbach in his grave. But Bradley’s size lowers his defensive ceiling lower than Allen’s, meaning he needs to become average — or at least closer to average — offensively before Rivers commits to using his defensive prowess.
P.S. — I guess I should have expected this, but I found it fascinating how closely Rivers paid attention to Bradley’s professional hoops stint in Jerusalem:
“They moved him to the 2,” Rivers said. “They tried to play him at the point, but when you watched the games he was at the 2, that told you they saw the same thing. The two games where he played well over there, he was at the 2. That’s what he does, and that’s good, because we want him to get on the floor. Defensively he can really help us, but he has to play all year, so when the playoffs start he’ll be able to guard guys.
“He was injured last year, he was trying to play, he was playing with Kevin Garnett for the first time, and he got big eyes. This time when he comes in he’s just playing, because he’s not worried about who he’s playing with anymore.”