Every time Avery Bradley cuts off a player bringing the ball up the court, forces them to change direction, beats them to the spot or bodies them off their desired path, I think the same thing: “Man, I would absolutely hate to play basketball against him.”
Apparently, opposing coaches think the same thing, which is why he received enough votes to make the All-Defense Second Team as a guard. Bradley finished third in the guard voting with 25 points (10 First Team votes, 5 Second Team), but he was 12 points short of First Team guard Chris Paul and 28 points short of ex-Celtic Tony Allen, who led all vote-getters with 53 points.
Bradley’s selection is made even more impressive by the two months he missed at the beginning of the season, as well as his disappointing performance in the playoffs. Still, it is a little surprising that only 15 of the 30 NBA coaches gave Bradley a vote at all (although, for what it’s worth, Bradley did get the most first team votes of any player who ended up on the second team). But when we factor in the time he missed at the beginning of the season, Second Team is probably where Bradley belongs for now. “For now” is, of course, the key phrase, since a strong defensive year next season could very well vault Bradley into First Team consideration.
Kevin Garnett, however, received no votes from any NBA coach. While I’m not particularly surprised by this, I am a little disappointed and I definitely don’t agree. Garnett remains, still, one of the more impressive team defenders in the NBA, and Boston’s on- and off-court statistics with KG will attest to that. I wouldn’t expect Garnett to make one of the teams, but I’m surprised that an Atlantic division team, who saw Boston regularly and was forced to gameplan for Garnett’s affect, didn’t at least spring a second-team vote for him.
Fluky things happen in these votings. Little-used Dallas Maverick’s guard Mike James received a First Team vote, which means either that a voter was confused by a drop-down menu and meant to vote for LeBron James, or Mike James’ mother is actually a head coach somewhere in the league. Defensive Player of the Year Marc Gasol somehow ended up on the second team (seriously, voters?). So KG’s exclusion from the list is disappointing but perhaps explicable.
Still, instead of complaining about Garnett’s snub, we should celebrate Bradley’s accomplishment. His on-ball defense is top-notch, and when he is on top of his game, it’s a joy to watch him perform (and a nightmare for opponents). It’s great to see him get some well-deserved recognition.
Follow Tom on Twitter: @Tom_NBA.