Avery Bradley: defensive powerhouse and blossoming offensive role player. No, he’ll never be an offensive superstar along the likes of Kobe Bryant or Dwyane Wade, but does that really matter? Defense wins championships, and not everyone on a competing team needs to be an offensive powerhouse. Avery Bradley is reportedly asking for a $8 million paycheck, but is that too much for his caliber of player? I’d argue that it is, but isn’t too far out of the acceptable range. Throughout this article, I’ll cover what the Celtics would be like with him, and without him, and what he should be signed for.
What Bradley brings to the Celtics is a hard working attitude and a defensive stopper. Yes, some would argue that he was shown to be a less effective defender than he is supposed to be in last season’s first round loss to the Knicks, where the likes of Raymond Felton gave him some issues. I personally believe that that series was not enough evidence to expose anything about Avery Bradley, and could only be a hiccup in what could be a mostly smooth career for Bradley. Yes, it was Fat Felton, and yes, he did look foolish at times in the playoffs, but even the best players go through a rough patch at times, and it doesn’t define their entire careers. His attitude and work ethic is what I really enjoy about Bradley’s game. When he is on the court he’s always giving it his all, and because of that his teammates step up their games as well. Last season when he came back from his shoulder surgery recovery, the entire team seemed to have a new life breathed into the defensive end. He was the spark that really got the Celtics inspired on the defensive end, and I believe that that’s the most important aspect about him. His impact on team defense. Next year and beyond, if the Celtics resign him, he’ll be the defensive identity of the Celtics, and the team that’s built around him will follow his lead. Offensively, he’s actually made a significant amount of progress this year, and while we have discovered that there is absolutely no way he should ever be played at point, he has been pretty effective at the 2 guard position. I honestly believe that Bradley is a player that Boston should build around, he, Rondo, and Sully, and I hope that the Celtics are able to sign him to a reasonable but long contract.
Now to look at life without AB. The Celtics would be in need of another defensive stopper, possibly through the draft (Marcus Smart), but by going that route they’d be missing out on meeting the team’s biggest needs: a wing scorer and a rim protector. A perimeter defensive stopper is vital to any team that wants to compete, and without Bradley’s presence, the Celtics could lack a vital piece to their defensive puzzle. If Danny Ainge let Avery walk, the Celtics rebuild could be postponed for another year, to wait for another draft, trade, or free agent that might provide for what the Celtics lost in AB. Offensively, he’d be replaceable, although he has improved mightily this year on that end of the court. Like I mentioned before though, the biggest piece the Celtics would lose is the spark he provides on defense. Rondo can be pretty complacent at times, and if their Captain gets complacent and there is no one there to encourage him to play with some fire and passion, their defense might lose their all-important mentality. It would be a major loss on the defensive end, and a minor loss (albeit curable) on the offensive end.
Now, what is Avery Bradley worth? And what’s the acceptable range of payment for the young guard? Well, a comparable NBA player might be an ex-Celtic: Tony Allen. Currently on a 4 year, $20 million contract, Allen is being paid $5 a year for his presence. This year, Avery is getting nearly 4 more points per game than Allen, and has better free throw and three point percentages as well. Meanwhile Allen has a minimal lead in rebounds per game (by .1 RPG), assists per game (by .5 APG), steals per game (by .7 SPG), and blocks per game (by .2 BPG). Allen also boasts a better field goal percentage, and plays almost 5 minutes less per game than Avery Bradley. Being taller than AB, Allen is a beautifully versatile defensive tool, able of playing 1s, 2s, or 3s, and his overall stats display that he is more dynamic than Bradley. However, AB is also young and has plenty of room to grow, and has shown improvement to his overall game this year, which could continue to grow in the future. While Tony Allen is the more versatile player, I believe that it’s Bradley’s youth and room to grow that should earn him a little more than Allen is currently making. In my opinion, a reasonable price tag for Bradley would be around $6 million a year. Saying that, and knowing that not everything always ends how it should, signing Bradley for anything up to $8 million a year is acceptable. Anything higher, and the cost would outweigh the benefits, and financially choke the rebuilding Celtics that are trying desperately to create some cap space.
All in all, I believe that Bradley is an important piece to Boston’s future, and could be a nice building block with the defensive spark and growing offensive game he provides. If I were Danny Ainge, I would work my hardest to keep the deal around $6 million a year, but would accept any deal below $8 million if Bradley really demanded it. He is a great defensive presence who is still learning and growing into this league. Losing him would most likely sentence Boston to another year of rebuilding purgatory, and being the impatient man I am, I would really dislike if that happened. Danny Ainge, please resign Avery Bradley.