I know a little bit about Avery Bradley the player, but I hardly know anything about Avery Bradley the person. This piece from ESPN, written before this past season, is a start.
“I told them I wanted to wear zero,” he said. “To me, this is a fresh start. High school doesn’t matter. It’s over. There are no more rankings, any of that. I have to prove myself all over again, so that’s why I wanted to start at zero. Start at the beginning.”
Imagine that. No sense of entitlement or grandiosity, two feet planted firmly in Austin and not halfway in the NBA.
You ask Bradley, who many figure for a one-and-done, if he thinks about his future and he sheepishly says, “People tell me I have potential, but until I go out there and prove it, what people say or think about me doesn’t matter.”
There’s a word for kids like Bradley.
In a sad testimony to the state of the game today, that word is throwback.
“The thing about Avery, he doesn’t come in here thinking he knows everything,” Texas coach Rick Barnes said during the recent Big 12 media day in Kansas City. “He came in here this summer to work out with Kevin [Durant] and Justin Mason and he was like a little puppy, following them around. He’s just got it figured out.”
So Avery Bradley was the number one high school recruit (ahead of John Wall, who — this is absurd — was cut from his high school team as a sophomore), but had no ego about it? I don’t know whether to say that’s a good or bad thing. It would definitely be good if he came in, destroyed all opponents and just didn’t want any credit for it. But he didn’t do that. Instead, he came in as the number one recruit and then failed to live up to expectations, averaged only 11 points and 2 assists, and was generally the biggest disappointment in the entire state of Texas. So maybe he should be more egotistical.
If it was a bigger head he needed, maybe Bradley has gotten it: He said his goal for next season is to win Rookie of the Year. I guess he forgot that Doc Rivers doesn’t play rookies and, even if he does break through Doc’s unwritten rule of benching all first-year players, Bradley will have to battle Rajon Rondo for playing time. Methinks Rookie of the Year is just a little bit out of the question.