Continuing with the ESPN Player Rankings we come to #102, Avery Bradley. Avery is the first Celtic who is ranked higher this year than he was last year. He is up 4 spots from his rank of #106 last season. Avery will once again start the season at the point guard spot, filling in for the injured Rajon Rondo and so will be a big key for the Celtics in how he adapts to playing that position.
Avery began his basketball career playing for Bellarmine Preparatory School in Tacoma, Washington for his first three years of high school. Bradley helped to lead Bellarmine Prep to a third place finish in the 4A state tournament in his junior year. Bradley then transferred to Findlay College Prep for his senior season. He led his team to the National High School Basketball championship against Oak Hill Academy, and won 56–53. Oak Hill Academy has been a high school power house for many years, producing pros such as Carmelo Anthony, Stephen Jackson, Steve Blake, Rajon Rondo, Josh Smith and many others. He averaged 19.1 points, 4.6 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 2.9 steals per game as a senior.
Bradley was chosen to play in the 2009 McDonald's All-American Game and he also won the 2009 McDonald's High School All-American Dunk Contest. He was also chosen as a first-team Parade Magazine All-American. He was the ESPNRISE.com High School National Player of the Year He was ranked as one of the top high school basketball players in the class of 2009. He was rated #1 in the ESPNU100, #4 by Rivals.com, and @5 by Scout.com. Bradley chose the University of Texas at Austin to play his college ball. In his freshman season Bradley started for the Longhorns and played in all 34 games. He averaged 11.6 points, 2.9 rebounds, 2.1 assists, and 1.3 steals in 29.5 minutes per game in his only season with the Longhorns.
In spite of being hampered by an ankle injury, Bradley was selected with the 19th pick in the 2010 NBA Draft by the Boston Celtics. The Celtics assigned Avery to the Maine Red Claws to begin his rookie season. After the injury to Marquis Daniels in February of that season, Avery was called up to the Celtics to play in 31 games. He played very sparingly, however, averaging 1.7 points, 0.5 rebounds and 0,4 assists in just 5.2 minutes per game.
The 2011-12 season was shortened by the NBA Lockout. During the time that the season was delayed due to the lockout, Bradley signed with Hapoel Jerusalem BC. in the Israeli league. He played three games for Hapoel, averaging 13.7 points per game, before returning to the Celtics for the shortened season. Bradley was given much more playing time in his sophomore season and even took on a starting role due to Ray Allen's ankle injury. He averaged 7.6 points, 1.8 rebounds, and 1.4 assists in 21.4 minutes per game. His season ended when he suffered a dislocated shoulder during the 2012 NBA Playoffs. He underwent double shoulder surgery during the offseason.
Bradley began the 2012-13 season just like he finished the previous season, on the injured list, still rehabbing from the double shoulder surgery. Bradley returned to action in January of 2013 and regained his role as the starting two guard. He led the league in fewest points per play allowed on defense, at 0.697, but he also struggled offensively as he once again took over for Rajon Rondo at the point when Rondo went down with a torn ACL. His stats improved once again for the season, averaging 9.2 points, 2.2 rebounds, 2.1 assists, and 1.3 steals per game over 28.7 minutes played per game.
For the first time, Avery Bradley did not have something to disrupt his offseason training. As a rookie, he had left ankle surgery in the summer. His second offseason was disrupted by the lockout and he was unable to use the team's training facility. And then, last year he was recovering from the double shoulder surgery. This year, Avery has had a full summer to prepare and he is ready and raring to go in this training camp. He is the leading candidate, at this point, to start at the point guard position for the still rehabbing Rajon Rondo. Brad Stevens has had a lot of good things to say about him.
“Progressively, he’s gotten better every day and his mind-set is in a really good place. He’s really worked. He’s watching film. He’s watching extra film. He’s studying. He’s trying to get as good as he can be. His attitude has been fantastic."
I'm very anxious to see what Avery Bradley will do this season. In spite of the injuries and inability to work in the offseason, he has improved in each and every season with the Celtics. It sounds as though he's about to continue that trend and improve again this season and that begins tonight with their first preseason game against Toronto. I can't wait!!
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