Thank God for Leandro Barbosa. For all of the high-priced signings, it’s the small stack that’s making the biggest impact when it comes to bang for the buck. Barbosa is playing well and making the most of his minutes, even though the minutes fluctuate wildly. But our Boston Celtics still miss a key ingredient to its success, a player who emerged as a revelation last season and whose defensive presence on the perimeter could go a long way toward snapping our Celtics out of a weird early-season funk.
We’re talking Avery Bradley, of course.
Bradley stepped in last season when Ray Allen went down due to an injury, only to see his playoff run cut short due to shoulder injuries. Word on the street is that Bradley is ahead of schedule in his rehab, and that he’s been working hard to accelerate a return to the court. That’s a good thing, because our Celtics have been struggling to find a consistent level of play in the early part of the schedule. A healthy Bradley could up the defensive quotient considerably, which in turn could help the flow in other parts of the game.
Danny Ainge and Doc Rivers are in no hurry to rush Bradley back, but at the same time they want him on the court ASAP. Contradictory, I know, but it is what it is. Jeff Green has been struggling, and Courtney Lee has been hit and miss. The Celtics need another baller on the court who brings it on every trip up and down the court. Bradley is that type of player. He brings a dimension to the game that Rivers covets – think of Bradley as a perimeter version of Kevin Garnett and you begin to get the idea.
The biggest drawback to Bradley in the rotation is his poor outside shooting. Last season Bradley shot 18.9 percent from this distance (the average for shooting guards logging at least 20 minutes per game was 37.5 percent). When you think about pairing Bradley with Rajon Rondo on a consistent basis, you have on one hand an outstanding defensive backcourt, and on the other a duo that scares no one in terms of knocking down jumpers.
Still, I believe the Celtics are far better off with Bradley in the fold. He balls hard, and we need more players who aren’t afraid to get after it on both ends of the court.