Shawn Bradley is back in the news thanks to a Grantland 30 for 30 Short called “Posterized,” a documentary that explores how the 7’6″ big man went from “a bust on the basketball court to a superstar off of it.”
Shawn Bradley was not a bust!
The simple fact is Bradley had a long, productive career. True, he did not live up to being the no. 2 overall pick, but he was far from a bust.
There is a big difference between busts with short, meaningless careers (see Adam Morrison, Chris Washburn, Nikoloz Tskitishvili) and solid guys like Bradley.
Here are the top five reasons Shawn Bradley was far from a bust, and should be remembered as a good NBA center.
#1) NBA’s All-Time Block % Leader
Per basketball-reference.com, Shawn Bradley has the highest block percentage in NBA history. In other words, SHAWN BRADLEY WAS THE MOST EFFICIENT SHOT BLOCKER TO EVER PLAY THE GAME! (Sorry for the all caps, but it is that important.) Bradley blocked an estimated 7.8% of his opponents’ two-point shots while he was on the floor, making him the most deadly shot blocker on a per-minute basis in NBA history.
#2) First Six Seasons: 11.0 PTS, 7.9 REB, 3.4 BLK
Shawn Bradley played 12 seasons, and his first six were solid. Between his rookie year in 1993-94 and his sixth season in 1998-99, Bradley averaged a respectable 11.0 points and 7.9 rebounds to go along with a completely dominant 3.4 blocks per game. He also registered an above-average 16.0 PER during this time. These are not All-Star numbers, but they are light years away from “bust” category.
#3) No. 14 All-Time in Career Blocks
Bradley swatted 2,119 shots during his 12-year career, placing him at No. 14 in NBA history. To put that in context, the No. 14 all-time scorer is Kevin Garnett. The No. 14 all-time rebounder is Shaquille O’Neal. The No. 14 all-time assists leader is Tim Hardaway. The No. 14 steals leader is Isiah Thomas. That’s pretty good company to keep.
#4) Three Seasons of 11.0+ PTS, 8.0+ REB, 3.3+ BLK
Bradley averaged at least 11.0 points, 8.0 rebounds, and 3.3 blocks per game in three straight seasons between 1995-96 and 1997-98. Only special players reach that level. The only other players in NBA history with at least three seasons of 11.0 points, 8.0 rebounds, and 3.3 blocks are Hall-of-Famers Hakeem Ojajuwon (9 times), Dikembe Mutombo (6), David Robinson (5), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (4), and Alonzo Mourning tied with Bradley with three seasons.
#5) Six Career Triple-Doubles
Yes, Shawn Bradley had six career triple-doubles (10+ points, 10+ rebounds, 10+ blocks). This includes his monster 22-point, 22-rebound, 13-block game against the Portland Trailblazers in 1998. No player reached the 20-20-10 threshold again until Joakim Noah in 2013, fifteen years after Bradley accomplished the feat.
No, Shawn Bradley never played at an All-Star level, nor did he live up to the hype of the No. 2 overall pick.
But he was no bust.
While Grantland’s “Posterized” effectively illustrates Bradley’s happy, fulfilling life after basketball, it inaccurately portrays his NBA career as a bust. Bradley’s career was much better than Grantland and many others give him credit for.
Shawn Bradley was good.
Put that on a poster.