Avery Bradley had a good week in Europe for the Celtics.
He was scoring around the basket as well as from 3-point range. And as usual, he was being a defensive pest to opponents.
It was a great example of how more production can be brought about by doing less; as in less dribbling.
Bradley may be the team’s best player when it comes to moving without the ball, often finding gaps in the defense where he simply has to go up and score without having to take a single dribble.
When former Celtics coach Doc Rivers tried to shift a bulk of Bradley’s duties to that of a backup point guard, it was clear that it was a bad fit for him.
A lot of that has to do with his ball-handling skills, which have to be considered a weakness of his game.
Not only does this become apparent based on the eye test, but the numbers back it up.
Last season, Bradley’s effective field-goal percentage declined with each dribble he took.
When he shot without taking a single dribble, his eFG% was 54.6. One dribble saw it dip to 47.6. Three to six dribbles continued to slide, down to 43.1. And when he took seven or more dribbles, his eFG% was just 27.7.
And this was not a one year thing, either.
His numbers during the 2013-2014 season, Brad Stevens’ first as the Celtics coach, also fell with more dribbles except for when he took seven or more (38.7), which was slightly up from when he took three to six dribbles (37.7).
And while the preseason thus far offers up a small sample, that same trend – better scoring with less dribbling – still holds up.
In Boston’s 111-96 win over Real Madrid on Thursday, Bradley had a team-high 17 points on 7-for-14 shooting, which included him making three of his four 3-point attempts.
Of the seven made baskets by Bradley, the 6-foot-2 guard took a combined one dribble.
And of the seven misses, Bradley took a total of 11 dribbles.
Teammates were finding him in the corner for 3-pointers and Bradley did a great job of cutting to the basket for lay-ups, both of which made the need for him to dribble unnecessary.
And that is the challenge that he and the Celtics will have going forward.
For the Celtics to have the kind of unexpected success they enjoyed last season, it’s going to take players sacrificing in ways that don’t allow them to showcase as much growth in their game that exists.
Bradley has worked on his ball-handling this summer and there will be times when it’ll be needed.
But when it comes to him contributing offensively, more scoring from Bradley is going to need to involve less dribbling on his part, which is a small concession when you consider the players around him and the potential impact he can make on this team if he’s scoring with a high level of consistency and efficiency.