Celtics

Celtics

WALTHAM, Mass. – It seems every year Avery Bradley has been in the NBA, he comes back the following season with a new wrinkle added to his game.

He emerged as a defensive pest in 2012, good enough to earn all-NBA defensive accolades the following season. He then became a proficient shooter of the corner 3-ball, which was a factor in him supplanting Ray Allen as the team’s starting shooting guard. From there, Bradley expanded his offensive arsenal to include a pretty wicked catch-and-shoot game. 

So what’s next? 

“Getting to the free throw line,” he told CSNNE.com. “I have to do a better job with that this season for sure.” 

Last season, Bradley averaged just 1.3 free throw attempts per game, which is not what you would expect from a player who was second on the team in shots taken (13.2) per game. 

For him to get to the line more often, Bradley understands he’ll have to put the ball on the floor more and drive to the rim – two things he has not done a lot of during his NBA career.

During workouts this summer, Bradley asked a few big men what was tougher to defend, a guard driving full speed to the rim or one who switches up speed.

“They said a guard that comes at me full speed is easy to guard. But someone who pauses for a second, they were like, ‘those were the hardest people to guard,’” Bradley recalled.

So that means working on his ball-handling, which has remained one of his weaknesses throughout his career, and doing so while driving to the lane. 

 

“Where my ball-handling is now, with the work I put into it this summer, I feel so comfortable right now,” Bradley said. “Just my pace, just the game slowing down for you makes everything easier. I feel it has slowed down a lot for me. Even though everyone was moving fast, I felt my game was at a good speed.” 

If Bradley can become a more effective player getting to the free throw line, it would make him an extremely difficult cover. 

Teams know all too well that Bradley is at his best when he catches the ball and immediately shoots without taking a dribble. 

In fact, his effective field goal percentage last season was .546 when he shot without taking a single dribble. When he took one dribble, that number dropped to .476. Two dribbles saw it continue to dip, to .447. The slide continued when he took 3-6 dribbles (.431). And he was at his worst when he dribbled the ball seven or more times (.277). 

The numbers might not bode well in Bradley’s favor to become an elite ball-handler, but the one thing you can count on with him is noticeable improvement when he puts his mind to improving a particular aspect of his game. 

Although it has only been a couple days of practice, Bradley says he can already see the time he spent working on his game pay off. 

“Being able to translate it over to practice and not me just going out and doing it in workouts … it’s translated to practice,” Bradley said. “Now it just has to translate over to games.”