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Your Morning Dump… Where Avery Bradley’s a better shooter than you think

John - Red's Army (@RedsArmy_John) November 22, 2013 Avery Bradley, Jared Sullinger, Kelly Olynyk, Rajon Rondo, The Morning Dump 11 Comments


avery bradley jumper

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

WEEI:  Stat Man: Avery Bradley is an elite jump shooter

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.

ESPN Boston: Keep shooting, Avery

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.”

CSNNE:  Big Impact:  Stevens likes Sullinger, Olynyk starting

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

And Finally….

rondo style

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”

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  • bill_nair

    Bradley was an offensive stud coming out of high school. There’s no doubt he can put the ball in the hoop and its been evident the past few games. He looks much more confident playing off the ball. He even looks like a better ball handler when hes not manning the point as weird as that sounds.

    “So the more Avery shoots, the better he’s been so far in his career.”– Its one of those “Well duuuh” things, but when you shoot you score. Can anyone answer why Jeff doesnt see this?

    I was worried about the Sully/KO lineup on defense but they have at least passed the eye test. You cant expect them to be able to protect the paint this early on but they have shown they’re more than capable of it. Im warming up to the idea of this being the starting front line of the future.

    • LA Flake

      That Clippers coach always told us AB can shoot.

  • Jacquard Causeway

    Don’t think we have any young budding stars on the team right now, but I feel pretty good about the Bradley / Sully / Olynyk combo.

    Add Rondo and a high 2014 lottery pick to that group and we could have the makings of something really good.

  • Curt Hays

    While I do really like AB, and won’t say a bad thing about him. I’m concerned that these numbers are inflated because of the small sample size. He had two games there were he just torched the opponents. Granted, we’ve seen him shoot quite well for extended periods of time.

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  • Jake Gruber

    Here is the thing. Take this with a grain of salt, because there is a catch. A player like Bradley will never be an elite scorer, I think we can all agree with that. If you’re not an elite scorer, your role (on a good team) pretty much comes down to either 1. Being a guard who can create shots for yourself (occassionally) and others or 2. Be a spot up shooter from THREE if you are a guard. Bradley, though shooting well from mid-range, has not proven to be good at either of these so far. Point being that on a team like the one currently constituted, this is great, but this doesn’t particularly give me any hope on him being a good offensive piece on a championship-caliber team.