Avery Bradley must have left his green-tinted halo at home, because the Celtics’ supposed savior was missing his angelic glow on Tuesday.
Bradley has not played competitively since May 18, yet many fans and observers seem to be counting on him to rescue the Celtics from their current slide.
Since the start of the 2012-13 NBA Season, much of the talk had been about how great the lineup will be once their young guard Avery Bradley returns from season ending shoulder surgery that he endured last season. Initially, Bradley was viewed as a complimentary piece, a way to complete the puzzle in a sense. Combined with Jason Terry, Rajon Rondo and Courtney Lee the four would provide one of the most unique yet dynamic backcourts in all of the NBA. Each has a forte, something they thrive at whether its a wizard of creative passing, coming off the bench and contributing, the deep ball, or in Bradley’s case defense.
As the season has progressed and the Celtics have shown serious signs of trouble, the growing concern among Celtics nation caused many to turn Bradley from the complimentary player that he was supposed to be, to the messiah who will come in and turn the program around. Much of this can be credited to the denial that man fans live in, while the other half can be rationalized to some degree. Many fans feel that since Bradley is a defensive gem, and the Celtics have been struggling on defense that he will be the piece they needed.
I say not so fast though. The Celtics struggles have been primarily INTERIOR defense rather than perimeter defense where Bradley specializes. Unless Bradley grows another foot and learns the Mutombo finger wag soon, he will not be fixing the interior defense. Where Bradley will help the interior defense is that Bradley is less of a risk taker than Rajon Rondo is on the perimeter. The problem with taking risks on the perimeter is that it leaves your interior guys vulnerable to looking bad as they are often late to come and help (especially with an older team that doesn’t move as fast). Bradley is far more secure on the perimeter than Rondo and won’t allow guys to slip through as easily which will help the inside guys just a little bit.
Is what Bradley brings to the table enough to turn things around overnight? Not even close, but if fans have a realistic approach towards Bradley and see him as a key piece to the puzzle, rather than the one to fix it all, there will be far less pressure on Bradley to be something that he has not yet become; the leader of the team. This is not to say that Bradley cannot develop into said player, but lets remember that just a year ago there was talk that he may not even make the team during training camp, and many fans viewed him as a bust already after just one season of riding the pine.
I understand the fans desire to win now, but if winning now means placing a significant amount of pressure on a growing star and possibly over-burdening him with tasks he is not ready to perform (especially as he comes fresh off surgery) which could potentially stunt his growth, then I would rather not win now and allow this team to grow and bud into something special in the future. For all of the Red Sox fans out there, think of this as similar to the Daniel Bard situation, a player with tremendous abilities thrust into a role that he did not belong in yet , causing a train wreck of events leading to his demotion mid-season. Hopefully the Celtics will have learned from their cross town partners mistakes….
The rest of the links:
Boston Herald – Bradley practices, Rondo sits and wonders about tomorrow night – Mark Murphy , CSNNE- Bradley set to return Wednesday vs. Grizzlies– A. Sherrod Blakely , CSNNE Rondo (hip) questionable for Grizzlies game , A. Sherrod Blakely , ESPN Boston : Three predictions for 2013 – Chris Forsburg ESPN Boston- Practice notebook: Turning the page – Chris Forsburg Boston Herald- Pressures back on – Mark Murphy, NESN- Rajon Rondo Says Avery Bradley Is Best Desfensive Guard In NBA – ESPN Boston- A boost from Bradley