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.
Stevens said Avery Bradley may indeed see the bulk of the point guard duties until Rondo finds his way back from offseason knee surgery.
“I don’t think there is any doubt that Avery has elite ability in a lot of ways as a point guard,” Stevens said at TD Garden yesterday morning, where he was a guest at the breakfast to promote November’s Coaches vs. Cancer college basketball tripleheader. “He’s an elite defender at the position. He’s an elite athlete at the point guard position. I think he’s a guy that’s gotten better. I think he’s a guy with more confidence, and I think he’s excited about the challenge if Rajon is out.”
In his three years as a Boston Celtic, there has been one consistent truth about Avery Bradley: He’s not an NBA point guard.
We’ve seen that point hammered home over and over again, most recently in the last NBA basketball many of you have watched, the first round playoff loss to the New York Knicks. Bradley was pressured into mistake after mistake. His confidence was crushed into a fine powder and blow into the ether like dust off an old, unread book entitled “how not to use Avery Bradley in the NBA.”
Yet here the Celtics are, in much the same situation they were in the last time they took the floor: no Rajon Rondo and no immediately satisfying options to fill his void. Who’s it going to be?
Phil Pressey? He’s perhaps the best “point guard” of the group, but he’s very turnover prone and he’s very small. In summer league, those two things were glaring problems.
Jordan Crawford? Don’t make me smack you.
But since I’ve been tortured with the image of Bradley, whom I love as a player, but hate as a point guard, running this team in the past, I can’t bring myself to pencil him in as the hypothetical starter when camp breaks. I’ve seen him struggle way too much.
“I can understand when people say he struggled because of the numbers (9.2 ppg, 40.2 percent from floor), but you can’t measure the numbers on the other end of the floor quite as well,” said Stevens. “He can impact a game like very, very few people in the NBA. I think ‘struggles’ is really a subjective term.”
Except Ray Felton torched Bradley time and time again in the playoffs because of the toll the point guard position was playing on Bradley’s mind and body. All those minutes running the team under the pressure of the playoffs, coupled with the struggles that just magnified everything, Bradley didn’t have the same leg or mental strength to be the lock-down guy that he normally is.
But there’s one thing Stevens is hanging his hat on.
“As I’ve watched it, I didn’t think the struggles were as bad as they were made out to be. The other thing is he did that midstream. He had to make that adjustment within a system already created. Maybe we do things that fit him a bit better early that you can tweak when Rajon comes back.”
And this is the “…. but” in this conversation.
All of the things I’ve said are very true, but they’ve all been true under Doc Rivers. Doc’s system, Doc’s play calls, Doc’s line ups… it’s all been Avery adjusting to what Doc was trying to implement with Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce on the floor.
So this season, in some ways, is a bit of a fresh start for Bradey in this “point guard in Rondo’s absence” role. Instead of him being the square peg trying to pound himself into the round hole, Stevens and his staff can work on making things match up a little better.
He has spoken, at length, about putting the right people in the right places to succeed. So this is shaping up to be his first big test. Can he figure out a way to make Bradley and effective NBA point guard. Can he craft line ups and a distribution of minutes that will suit Bradley in this role without taking away from his real strengths as an elite NBA defender?
This will either be Stevens’ first mistake, or one of his first triumphs.
The rest of the links:
Globe: Brandon Bass learns to swim | Celtics new home is 98.5 The Sports Hub | College coaches think Stevens will do well in the NBA | CSNNE: Humphries warming up to joining C’s | Celtics games move to 98.5 | Stevens, Ainge, look to make Wallace fit C’s | Predicting the season for Kelly Olynyk | ESPN Boston: Green means Go Time | C’s finalize deal with Sports Hub | WEEI: C’s answer questions, create more | Natick Patch: Meet Kelly Olynyk Saturday at the Natick Mall | Yahoo: DeMarcus Cousins gets $62 million max extension in Sacramento