Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here… highlighting the big storyline. Because there’s nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump.
Mark Murphy-Avery Bradley Sets Himself Apart With Defense
His jump shot is improving, and he has a unique knack for back-cuts. But like Tony Allen before him, Avery Bradley gets his primary thrill from breaking down an offensive player.
Demoralizing him. Filling him with doubt.
Once the opposing point guard starts to grumble or panic at the thought of not reaching midcourt, Bradley gets a little thrill from the induced frustration.But there is at least one plum left that has just been out of Bradley’s reach, and it remains the sweetest fruit still on the tree. He has never forced a backcourt (eight-second) violation in an NBA game.
In today’s NBA, with guys trying to pad their stats & make Sportscenter with highlight reel dunks, here’s Avery Bradley. And his goal? To force an 8-second violation on defense. How freaking beautiful is that.
No one ever does, of course. NBA point guards and other ballhandlers are supposed to be too quick and skilled to ever have that much trouble getting the ball upstream.
But Bradley is one of the few in the NBA who applies consistent full-court pressure. Allen, now the defensive leader of the Grizzlies, is another.
Bradley’s face lit up when asked about forcing an eight-second violation. It’s a nice goal.
“No, we haven’t been able to do that,” he said. “We got close to it a few times, me and (Rajon) Rondo. When we drop a 2-1-2 press, a few times we’ve been close but haven’t quite got there. That would be sweet if I do get one. It’s hard though, man. At this level, it’s hard to get that count. I probably got it in college, though that seems so long ago. In high school, I got it for sure.”
Boston has even gone as far as to measure the exact effects of Bradley’s pressure on other teams’ offensive games. It’s not surprising, as there’s a stat for just about everything these days. However, you’ll never see these “numbers” on NBA.com:
The Celtics are very protective of their numbers, and in this age of analytics, the team is forever producing statistics that measure player efficiency and tendencies.
They have quantified, for example, Bradley’s ability to take time off the other team’s shot clock, and delay the time it takes to get into an offense.
That information is off limits, and Bradley claims to not even know if he has an average rate — like, say, not allowing a team to set up its offense until 10 seconds have run off the shot clock.
He claims not to ever peek.
“I don’t look. I don’t pay attention,” he said. “Obviously when we watch film you might notice it. You’ll look at possessions and you might notice, ‘Hey, they’re getting into their offense at 10 seconds. But when I’m playing I just try to play hard, try to get them out of their offense. That is my mindset, try to rush them, rush them just like a lot of veteran players try to do to young guys. They try to rush you, make you play fast.”
Although it’s been somewhat lost with all of the C’s injury trouble this season, you cannot deny the instant boost Bradley gave the team’s defense and overall demeanor either. I’m quite certain this is a guy that the Celtics organization wants to hang onto for a long time.
Bradley returned from shoulder surgery during a Jan. 2 game against Memphis, and though he would miss subsequent time to bruised ribs, the change in energy throughout the lineup was unmistakable.
“When he came back our team started to play much better,” Ainge said. “Everyone played harder with him in there, and maybe we had more confidence as a result, too. But that’s not always enough. All it takes is for one guy not to play defense, and it falls apart.
“We know Avery had a huge impact on the defense last year. Just his overall defense and energy affects how others play. It took a lot of pressure off Rondo. But just because your overall defense is better isn’t enough. You still have to finish off (defensive possessions).”
Bradley bears a lot of responsibility that way. He can no longer play off Rondo, though he has developed a nice defensive chemistry with Courtney Lee.
“I just try to play as hard as I can, and if I get tired, I tell (Lee) and then he goes,” he said. “We just switch back and forth. But that definitely wears the other point guard down when you play that way. It gets them into the offense at 12, 13 seconds, which is good for us because sometimes it keeps the ball out of their star player’s hands.
“That’s our mentality. We just try to wear our opponents down. There’s a lot of great players in this league you have to worry about.”
The rest of the links: