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.
This past summer, finally granted the opportunity to train without rehab or a lockout looming overhead, Bradley made a concerted effort to improve his jump shot. And thus far it’s worked. He’s shooting 47.1 percent from midrange and ranks in the league’s top 10 among players with at least 50 attempts from that distance.
Among guards who have attempted at least 50 midrange jumpers, his percentage places him in rare company — third in the league behind a pair of 20-point scorers considered among the game’s most dynamic shooting guards
What Bradley appears to have realized recently is that teams are giving him the freedom to take that mid-range jumper so when he finds space coming off a pick-and-roll, he’s not hesitating. And he shouldn’t. Bradley is shooting an excellent 47.1 percent (40 of 85) from the mid-range overall this season, including 53.1 percent (17 of 32) over these last three games. As he struggles to reestablish the catch-and-shoot 3-pointer as a consistent weapon (he’s shooting 23.8 percent on corner 3s this season), Bradley has made the mid-range his sweet spot and has resuscitated his own offense in the process.
For Boston, 14.7 percent of its offensive possessions have finished in the hands of pick-and-roll ball-handlers, according to Synergy Sports data — the third highest play type on the team behind spot-up (15.4 percent) and transition (15.1). Bradley has the best numbers on the team averaging 0.906 points per play. He’s shooting 50 percent (21 of 42) in those situations and has limited his turnovers by looking for his shot more than the pass since moving back to shooting guard.
Avery is taking the move to shooting guard literally. He’s taken 20+ field goal attempts three times in his career, and two of them have been been this past week (career-high 23 vs. Minnesota, and 22 vs. Houston. He also had 22 at Atlanta last April). Seven of the 10 games in which he’s shot the ball 15 times or more have come this season.
He had a crappy shooting night against Houston, but that was hardly an anomaly. Everyone except for Jared Sullinger and Courtney Lee sucked against Houston. Throw that out, and he’s shot at least 40% in games where he’s taken 15 or more shots… and he’s actually shot 50% or better in SEVEN of those 10 games.
So the more Avery shoots, the better he’s been so far in his career. Follow that WEEI link and there are plenty of charts to back up the notion that Avery Bradley is pretty damn good from mid-range.
Now, of course, the bad: He’s really struggling from 3 (23%), he’s below average in the lane (35%), and he’s been terrible at the rim (just under 53%). You can’t take 44 lay ups and miss half of them.
But let’s be fair to Avery too; he’s had to deal with running the point for part of the season and we now how much that hurts his offense. And on top of that, he’s relying on a rotating cast of characters to get him the ball in some of those spots.
There is definite, obvious room for improvement in Bradley’s offensive game, but lost in all of it is the fact that he’s burying the mid-range jumpers at a very good clip. Hopefully when Rondo’s back and there’s some more stability to the offense, the rest of the areas will see some improvement too.
Page 2: Brad Stevens likes the Sullinger/Olynyk combo
“It was good,” said Stevens, in describing his rookie (Olynyk) and second-year forward (Sullinger) with the first unit.
Olynyk had eight points on 2-for-9 shooting with many of his misses being open or lightly contested shots. He also grabbed eight rebounds and had three assists.
But Olynyk’s numbers don’t necessarily show what kind of impact he has on games for Boston, whether it’s getting his hands on loose balls or being in the right place to contest a shot or provide help-defense at the right time.
“Kelly does so many things for us that go unnoticed,” said Stevens.
The same cannot be said for Sullinger whose play of late has been too good to ignore. In his last two games, he has averaged 14.5 points and 13 rebounds which includes a career-high 17 rebounds against the Spurs.
“You can run a lot of stuff through them,” Stevens said. “You can make them a passer. You can run action top of the key and let them facilitate from there. They can see a lot of things around them.”
I’ve been saying since July… I can’t wait for these two guys to get on the floor together with Rondo. They are really good from different spots on the floor, which makes them unpredictable… or at least it will when all is said and done.
The Sullinger/Olynyk combo is currently just a hair in the positive +/-, which can be read a few different ways. The bright side of that number is you’re getting positive production out of a rookie and a guy who missed half his rookie season due to back surgery (and who is still working his way back). The not-so-bright side of that number is that it’s being held back by Olynyk’s struggles offensively. If Olynyk can start knocking down the shots he’s getting at a reasonable percentage, then that +/- will be a lot more “plus” than “minus.”
There’s also the issue of rim protection, which neither Sullinger nor Olynyk really provide right now. Sullinger does a great job at bodying guys out before they receive the ball and stepping in for charges on drives. But he’s not tall enough nor does he jump high enough to be a rim protector. Olynyk has the height, but he’s not a tremendous shot blocker and he’s still very raw on the defensive end. So their +/- is definitely hurt by that as well.
But again, it’s still a net positive despite that, which shows how good they’ve been together, and how good Sullinger has been this season. There is much for them to learn, and that’s what this season (and next, really) is all about. The more these two guys can play together, the better off the Celtics will be.
Related links: ESPN Boston: Glimpse of future: The Sullinger/Olynyk combo
Rondo talks style and fashion in the NBA’s first installment of American Express Off The Court and then answers fans questions in a live chat
The rest of the links:
Herald: Stevens focuses on own hand | Globe: Celtics search for defensive consistency | CSNNE: Kidd among many coaches on the hot seat | ESPN Boston: Stevens’ story isn’t storybook | Ainge on Rondo: ”He’s our guy”