Former Texas Longhorns "point guard" Avery Bradley got some positive pub from the fine folks at ESPN Insider ($) this past week. Here are the relevant snippets.
* Seriously, national media: stop calling Bradley and Joseph former Texas point guards. Both played shooting guard.
And yet, [the Celtics] still were more or less scuffling along. Then Avery Bradley started playing regularly at shooting guard, and suddenly the Celtics found another level.
Bradley went in the starting lineup when Ray Allen went out with an injury, and he's been so good that Allen is now coming off the bench. Bradley's impact has been twofold. First, he had been abysmal offensively in previous trials at the point, but playing off the ball next to Rondo he's proved adequate: In this nine-game stretch as a starter, he's hit double figures six times.
Defensively, however, Bradley is a world-class pest. He's quick, athletic and relentless and excels at pressuring the ball, making up for being a bit undersized for the 2. While his rejection of Dwyane Wade last week is the play everyone is talking about, my heart was won earlier this season, when Orlando's guards could scarcely get the ball across the time line against him.
Add a heavy dose of Bradley to the mix, and the result has been that an already excellent defense has become an absolutely terrifying one. In this nine-game stretch, the Celtics have allowed 79 points or fewer five times, and the only teams to beat them are Chicago and San Antonio.
The lineup data supports the idea that Boston has found itself a defensive lineup for the ages. Check out the carnage on NBA.com's advanced stats tool: When Bradley and Garnett play together, Boston gives up 88.8 points per 100 possessions, allows 38.8 percent shooting and forces nearly one turnover for every assist. This is scary stuff, and it's not one of those small-minute flukes, either -- they've played 658 minutes together.
You think that's impressive? How's this: When Rondo and Bradley play together, opponents average 82.2 points per 100 possessions.
On the perimeter, Bradley has become one of the league's standout defensive performers, with an uncanny ability to keep opposing guards in front of him while still managing to pressure the ball. Even though his offensive skill set is that of a low-efficiency 2, his dogged defensive effort allows him to take on much bigger opponents. He's been so good that Rivers has started bringing Allen off the bench, a thought that would have seemed outlandish at the outset of the season.
We love to quote on-court/off-court numbers, which are important even when the differences seem marginal. There is nothing marginal in the Celtics' defensive uptick when Bradley in the game. For the season, Boston is an astounding 7.7 points per 100 possessions better with Bradley in the lineup. Celtics opponents turn the ball over more and shoot worse when Bradley plays, and are shooting just 28.8 percent from 3-point range against Bradley-led lineups.
My personal opinion: Dude made the right decision to take the guaranteed money and develop his game in the NBA. I'm glad to see him doing well.
Be excellent to each other.