A closer look at Avery Bradley’s defense, and how it compares to Rondo | Red's Army - The Voice of Boston Celtics Fans
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A closer look at Avery Bradley’s defense, and how it compares to Rondo

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Avery Bradley might as well be two different players.  As a point guard in the half court offense, he's… well… he's not good.  Not yet anyway.  And maybe that takes time.  Right now it's so bad, though, that you almost either have to start him so he can get a ton of help from the starters, or sit him because the bench can't bail him out on offense.

But on the other end of the court, Bradley is a menace. Going one-on-one with Bradley has generally been a losing proposition.  Here is a closer look at just how good Bradley has been on D (according to Synergy Sports).

  • Overall: Synergy has Bradley down for 85 defensive possessions.  Opponents are shooting 38.5% (13.3% from 3) in those possessions, turning the ball over 10.6% of the time.  He's holding opponents to .76 PPP (points per possession).  
  • He is by far most effective in isolation situations.  In 14 isolation situations, opponents are shooting 3-11 with 3 turnovers. 
  • The situation he has faced the most is defending the ballhandler in a pick-and-roll.  In 39 such situations, He is holding opponents to .85 PPP on 38.7% shooting and a 10.3% turnover rate. 

Just for fun, I compared him to Rajon Rondo… because I already know how people are going to look at Bradley's D and think something silly about him and Rondo.  The fact is, Rondo still is better:  

  • Overall Rondo is forcing opponents to a lower PPP (.68), a lower shooting percentage (33.9%) and a higher turnover rate (12.9%).  
  • Bradley is slightly better in isolations.  Bradley's opponents are shooting 27.3% while Rondo's are shooting 33%.  Bradley forces a higher turnover rate (21.4% vs 13.3%) but he's also only faced half as many isolation situations as Rondo. 
  • Defending the ballhandler in a pick and roll, Rondo forces an ever so slightly lower PPP (.84), which he does by forcing more turnovers (16.4%).  Opponents are shooting better (45.3%) though, in those situations.

According to Synergy, Bradley's overall defensive numbers rank him 83rd in the league.  Pretty good for a guy coming off the bench and forced into a couple of spot starts.  But Rondo is ranked 36th overall.  

I'm not trying to start anything here between these guys.  What I am doing is showing people that (a) Bradley has been damn good defensively and (b) as good as he is, Rajon Rondo is generally better, and better by a noticeable margin… despite our complaints about him gambling too much.

I'll tell you what, though… a backcourt of Bradley and Rondo would probably terrorize opponents.  They could have a contest to see who can force more 8 second violations.  That's why I say you start Bradley tonight in Ray Allen's place and see if the D can force a huge run to start the game.  If it kills the offense, then you sub in a shooter and forget it.  But those two guys working in unison has the potential to be like lions coordinating on a kill.  

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  • I don’t know who compiled these stats. I do know Darren Collison, Jarret Jack, Russell Westbrook, John Wall, Norris Cole and Derrick Rose (and others) all went off on Rondo. So someone is missing the point.

  • The Dobermans part 2 …..

  • Jason

    While I’m sure these numbers attempt to distill out just the individual’s play, they are still subject to 9 other players on the court. Does Rondo (and the stats assigned to him) not benefit from having JO, KG and Pierce all helping to bring down those PPP numbers? Yes the second unit and Bradley play against other second units, but I would venture the Cs bench isn’t the well-oiled defensive 5-as-1 that the starters are.
    I’m not saying these numbers lie, just the small sample and the influence of 9 others make me take this analysis with just a little salt.

  • paul

    Hmmm. I guess you just totally ignore the fact that this also means that Rondo is facing better offensive players in those circumstances where he’s benefitting from playing with the first team?
    Why be fair when all you want to do is hate on Rondo, like everyone else. So many hate-filled lemmings in Celtics Fandom.

  • paul

    Ok, pal. You think about it a little bit. We can all agree that Rondo doesn’t focus on man to man defense enough. Fine. But he’s still a brilliant defender. Norris Cole went off in a game that Rondo almost singlehandedly won for us. Do you think Cole might have taken advantage of Rondo being exhaused in the fourth quarter by any chance? Jarret Jack? I’ll give you that one. That was TOTALLY disgraceful on Rondo’s part. John Wall? Rondo outplayed him. Russell Westbrook? I don’t recall Pierce shutting down Durant, did he? Derrick Rose? Rondo outplayed him for most of that game.
    Try to stop hating Rondo. He’s our best player.

  • paul

    Even when Redsarmy publishes a nice article about Rondo, the fans just can’ WAIT to attack Rondo. I wonder if any team’s best player has ever been so much hated and blamed by his team’s fans. Well, I recall reading that Russell was hated by Boston fans, so maybe that’s a Celtics tradition?
    Folks, please think about how unfair you are to Rondo. You constantly put him into a no-win situation. When anything goes wrong, it’s Rondo’s fault. When anything goes right, it’s the Big Three’s achievement. Only now, it’s worse than that. Suddenly, after one brilliant game, you are all ready to sing the praises of Bradley, a guy most of you wanted to dump a week ago. If Rondo scores a bunch of points, everyone agrees that he did too much. If Rondo doesn’t score a lot, everyone agrees that he’s a terrible scorer and a drag on the Big Three. If Rondo makes a big steal, it’s expected. If he misses, he gambles too much. If Rondo makes a pass and it somehow doesn’t work, he’s ‘too flashy’. If he doesn’t, he’s being too passive. It never stops. No matter what, Rondo is the bad guy.
    Consider that pg is the one position in basketball that is CRAMMED with great players. Rondo has to play those great players each and every night. He always plays the key guy on the other team. Always. Every night. Do you think Bradley won’t get lit up if he does that every night? John Wall already lit him up (but Bradley clamped down in the fourth quarter). Kevin Garnett would get lit up on a regular basis. Not only does Rondo typically play strong defense against the most important player on the other team, but he also plays brilliant team basketball. Think about it. HOW MANY TIMES A GAME DOES RONDO DEFLECT A BALL OR CHANGE A PLAYER’S SHOT with his ‘gambling’ that you all complain endlessly about? He is the x factor in our defense. You should realize this by now.
    I’m not making excuses for Rondo. He can and should learn something from Bradley about clamping down in man-to-man defense more. But you folks really need to appreciate what a tremendous player is blossoming right in front of you. You are being blind to something very special.


    This is ridiculous. Comparing Avery Bradley with Rondo is downright idiotic. THEY ARE ON THE SAME DAMN TEAM. Let’s work out how both can work with each other instead of looking at who can supersede who. Brilliant work Bradley but you still got awhile to be on the level of Rondo. One game don’t make you an all-star but you movin in the right direction. Like I say to the rest of the Celtics, you want respect in this world? FIGHT FOR IT…

  • Jason

    Holy over-reaction Batman.

  • You Rondo defenders all miss the point. Rondo is not a good defender. Bradley does play better defense. Forget these meaningless stats and pay attention to what you see. Bradley is all over his man and Rondo is all over the court. Yes, Bradley would probably be torched by Derrick Rose but not for lack of effort. Rondo could be on his man. He clearly has the skills. He just CHOOSES not to. Of course, he’s a better player than Bradley. That is not the point. He may have “outplayed” his opponent if you look at his whole game but he got torched on defense and we lost the games. And his men killed us. I don’t hate him. I just don’t like to watch someone with so much talent purposely waste it. No Boston fans hated Bill Russell on the court, ever! Not even the racists. They may have hated him off the court because he was Black and outspoken for the time. But no one ever accused Russell of lagging off his man to pad his steal totals. Russell got torched by Chamberlain and others, at times, but his man was never floating around the court free. Tape a game once and freeze play Rondo’s man when the ball moves to the weak side and you’ll see. Don’t just blindly defend the indefensible! I would love to see him improve this and his free throws and his mid-range jumper so I can love him too but HE has to earn that love.

  • kyle petinga

    very well said, even though rondo is the better overall defender, bradley is the better lock down defender

  • JR99

    Making a point that happens to disagree with your views does not = hate.

  • JR99

    …And Bradley’s just getting warmed up. Let’s not forget that he’s practically a rookie, given that he had very little PT last season. In time, I expect Bradley to be excellent ALL AROUND, not just on D. His history includes an excellent scoring record pre-NBA, including from distance, and there’s every reason to expect him to improve substantially, in all aspects of his game, as he gains playing time and confidence in the NBA.
    And btw… I couldn’t care less about comparisons to Rondo. I want them BOTH to be great.

  • I want them both to do great and I definitely think Bradley earned a start. He’ll have to earn respect for his often awful offense though too. He should be better. His shooting mechanics look fine. I think he just gets nervous. The shots usually look good when they leave his hand. They just don’t go in enough.

  • Jason

    Are you paul using another sign-on? I can’t believe you two have dragged me into this muck. First, it wasn’t the disagreeing that I mistook for hate. Let’s see, what was it? Oh yeah, it was the hate that I took for hate. Yeah, so actually thanks for the math lesson, but I already knew hate = hate and not that disagreeing = hate. And it was that the hate was completely unjustified that I found objectionable. How so? Let me count the ways:
    1) “you just totally ignore …” – Extremely, exact opposite of what I did, wrong actually as I said “Yes the second unit and Bradley play against other second units.” This implies I go out of my way not to ignore and in fact acknowledge that Rondo’s numbers are against starters Bradley’s are not. But why let my actual words get in the way of whatever “I have to defend Rondo against everybody. Whether people attack him or not be damned.” attitude/agenda/stick up your ass you have.
    2) “why be fair?” How was anything I wrote not fair? #1 already addressed that I was fair in discounting Bradley for facing second stringers.
    3) Further, the bottom line of the post was take small sample, individual defensive stats with “a little salt”. And I backed that up with cogent arguments. Yeah, completely unfair. I’m ashamed of myself.
    4) “all you want to do is hate on Rondo” This is so ignorant as to be offensive. First, the post was very even-handed, not even close to hating. So that means for starters that paul (and JR99 for that matter) don’t know how to read or at least read fairly. Second, paul doesn’t know anything about me, meaning even if this was hateful, congrats making a generalization about me even though you’ve never read another post from me.
    5) paul has littered this thread attacking posters. Yeah, I think the hate emanating from his keyboard is quite evident and the mindless manner in which he has done it is equally evident.
    Hmmm, so was it the disagreeing? No, I don’t think that was it, simpleton. Try to think above a third grade level next time. All of us fans here will benefit.
    One more thing, let me just add a point I left out of the original post. KG is WIDELY considered THE BEST pick and roll defender EVER!!! So, go ahead and add even more salt “Rondo’s” PNR metrics.
    And lastly, not that it matters really because what I originally wrote stands on its own whatever my biases may be. However, for the record, I would consider myself one of Rondo’s biggest fans and ardent supporters. I’ve defended his attitude when others attacked him. I’ve slammed Danny for treating him poorly. And I’ve defended his game as well. So, paul, for starters, you are barking up the wrong tree. Plus saying possibly maybe it isn’t 100% accurate to cal Bradley the 86th best defender and Rondo the 36st is far, far from hating. But don’t let that prevent your vitriol and agenda from spewing on everyone here. Thanks for playing.

  • Jerry Sondler

    Totally correct analysis on Russell.
    Bradley defends as a guard much like Rodman defended as a forward…extreme man-to-man intensity. Of course, one can`t expect him to rival Rodman as a rebounder.

  • Let’s just hope he doesn’t continue to rival Rodman as a shooter. LOL

  • larry bird

    its easier to play like bradley when you dont have to do anything else on the court, the guy cant dribble, cant pass, or shoot, his offense is get the mid court and hand the ball off to pp and hide in a corner, ok what if we said rondo just play hard nose defense all gam dont worry about anything on offense just stand in a corner what u think would happen, he be one of the best or maybe the best defensive pg in the league, he already is. bradley didn’t stop wall or irving twice they lit him up also.
    so to even try to compare a guy who has to run the offense and be a big player in it to a guy you only ask to defend and do nothing else is ridiculous.

  • larry bird

    bradley is a bum he will not be in this league long because there already starting to figure him out, the last 3 games they have been powering him to the rim, his defense doesn’t even look the same anymore and if he cant play def then wuts a non dribbling, passer and shooter gonna do. me i think bradley is a waste and we can get better. a few more picks that sent him to the side lines and you will see the bum bradley that he is. ive never seen anyone in the nba who was as terrible as him that had so much hype. rondo would play the same def as bradley if thats all he had to do, why doesn’t that bum have to run the offense make shots and assist, how come he can get away with it and rondo gets bashed all the time. bradley wouldn’t have that energy if he was really expected to be a real player in this league.this is like comparing a mansion to a trailor park,