Joseph TreutleinAvery Bradley
has had an inconsistent freshman season, not unlike many of his teammates and the Texas Longhorns as a whole. Bradleys shots and production fluctuated wildly from game to game, and he didnt do much to improve on his weaknesses over the course of the season, though the one thing that remained consistent throughout was his intense, smothering defense. We covered Bradley extensively less than two months ago here, but with many indications suggesting hell be entering his name in the draft, its worth taking a more detailed look at this unconventional player whose stock is likely to be all over scouts boards.
Bradley is a somewhat unique prospect in that there really isnt anyone in the NBA with his skill set, and there are questions about how easily hell be able to find a niche. The majority of undersized pure 2s in the NBA are versatile scorers that can consistently create their own shot, while Bradley on the other hand is a more selective shooter who isnt adept at getting to the rim, though is also an outstanding defender.
Bradleys lack of anything resembling playmaking skills or a point guard mentality may be his most concerning attribute projecting to the pros, as itll be very tough to play him at the 1-spot without great shot-creators around him. While Bradley is capable of making flow-of-the-offense passes to open shooters at times, when he puts the ball on the floor he goes into clear scorer mode, looking exclusively for his own shot, even out of pick-and-roll scenarios. Developing into a more versatile pick-and-roll threat could vastly open up his own offense, while also giving teams another reason to give him playing time. This might be the most important thing to follow as the freshmans career progresses.
Bradleys strongest offensive attribute is undoubtedly his jump shot, which he is very reliable with in catch-and-shoot situations and pulling up off one or two quick, compact dribbles. While lacking much in the line of advanced moves, Bradley still does an excellent job getting separation for his jumper by using shot fakes, jab steps, and rip moves in combination with good footwork and a good first step. The interesting thing about Bradleys shot is that in spite of having very good form, boasting great elevation and a high and quick release, hes still prone to many shots that completely miss the mark, and hes shooting a surprisingly poor 55% from the free-throw line (albeit on a limited 66 attempts).
Speaking of free throws, another major problem area in Bradleys game is his inability to get to the line, something that most combo guards in todays NBA are expected to do. He ranks dead last
in free throws attempted per-40 minutes pace adjusted amongst all players in our 2010 or 2011 mock drafts in fact, drawing just 66 attempts in 1000 minutes this season, or one for every 15 minutes hes on the floor.
Another issues revolves around his inability to get high efficiency possessions around the basket in general. Hes scoring an incredibly poor 0.75 points per shot on shots around the basket according to Synergy, and in watching his game, its easy to see why. Bradley is often out of control on his drives to the basket and very rarely puts in much effort to create high percentage looks, rather trying to get close to the rim and then just throwing the ball in the general direction of it. On the bright side, Bradley does show an effective floater when hes intently looking for it, and many of his problems attacking the basket are related to a careless mentality as opposed to lack of ability, though he will certainly have some limitations projecting to the pros given his lack of size and strength.
Defensively is where Bradley projects best to the pro level, but the problem here is he will need to find a proper niche to best put his strengths to use, as his physical makeup is much better suited to defending point guards and combo-guards than it is taller shooting guards. Bigger players will be able to simply shoot over him and overpower him on drives to the basket, things that happened when faced with those situations this yearfor example against James Anderson
To Bradleys credit, one thing he does incredibly well is play outstanding prevent defense off the ball, sticking to his man like glue all over the floor and blocking off passing lanes to keep the ball away. On the ball, his lateral quickness is superb, as is his fundamental stance, and he puts in excellent effort all the time, getting right up into his man no matter where he is on the floor, using his length and hands very well, and always getting a hand up to contest a shot. For all of Bradleys strengths on defense, however, he has struggled defending the pick-and-roll this season, due in part to his physical nature, as hes prone to run full force into a well-set pick, getting stuck and not being able to recover, as he doesnt have the strength to fight through them.
Looking forward, Bradley is an extremely interesting prospect, but where and who he gets drafted by will have a huge impact on his immediate success in the league. Playing alongside a big shot creator (such as Tyreke Evans
or Dwayne Wade) who can defend 2s, or coming off the bench to play off the ball and defend opposing point guards or combo guards are situations he could find himself excelling in.
He should also benefit from playing alongside more steady playmakers in the pros than the revolving door of shaky point guard play he saw at Texas. Continuing to work on his three-point range, being more focused on his shot attempts in the lane, and really working to develop his pick-and-roll game should be among his priorities, and all of those things could help him find more potential niches in the pros, something that could be challenging if he is drafted into a tough situation.