Since Avery Bradley’s return to the team, the Boston Celtics have been playing noticeably better. The team’s success without star point guard Rajon Rondo has been even more surprising.
One person who isn’t surprised by the impact that Bradley has had, particularly on the defensive end, is head coach Doc Rivers. As a matter of fact, Rivers went as far as to compare Avery Bradley’s hounding on-ball defense to that of Hall-of-Famer Scottie Pippen. Via ESPN Boston:
Rivers has taken to comparing Bradley to the likes of Scottie Pippen, Derek Harper, and Alvin Robertson, with Michael Jordan’s former running mate his favorite parallel.
“It’s like Scottie Pippen — when you played the Bulls, you were praying that, ‘I hope he guards the other guy tonight,’ ” explained Rivers. “Because [Pippen] was one of those guys that could guard the 1, 2, or 3. And you were hoping, ‘OK, I hope [he guards the other guy].’ I mean, how rare is it that you want Michael to guard you? Over Scottie.
“And I’m thinking that’s Avery, and even Courtney [Lee]. Courtney’s a good defender as well, but they’re probably thinking, ‘I’ll take him over him.’ And [Bradley’s] feet are so good. I mean, he stays in front of the ball, he gets up into it, and it’s big for us. He’s really making us a better defensive team.”
Until you watch Avery Bradley play this year, it’s tough to really appreciate how great he has been defensively. As the previously linked article states, Bradley is first in the league in terms of defensive points per play, at .669. Additionally, his opponents are shooting only 29.7% against him.
Obviously, this is not a big enough sample size to place him amongst the all-time greats. But if Bradley keeps up his pace, he has the potential to be great.
-Mark Evans, Assistant Manager/Editor of Content
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