BOSTON, MA - MARCH 02: Avery Bradley #0 of the Boston Celtics takes a shot as Aaron Brooks #0 of the Phoenix Suns defends on March 2, 2011 at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
It hasn't been a great half a season for the Celtics, but Avery Bradley is quietly having a breakout year.
Paul Pierce noted: "We already know what he can do defensively, but each game he has gained a lot of confidence in his offense, the way he is knocking down shots and getting out on the break; his overall game is improving."
That might be an understatement. Back at the end of January, Celtics coach Doc Rivers went out of his way to defend Bradley's jumper because he was shooting so poorly from the perimeter. In fact, over the first 50 NBA appearances, Bradley was a mere 20-of-94 (21.2 percent) on shots beyond 3 feet (essentially anything not at the rim).
Even as his minutes dipped with Rondo returning from a sprained right wrist, Bradley's confidence has only continued to climb. Over the last three games, he's 9-of-16 shooting from the mid-range (16-to-23 feet), according to HoopData, highlighted by a 6-of-7 effort in a loss to the Mavericks on Monday. There's no hesitation for him lately and you can just see the confidence as he catches the ball with space. At times without Brandon Bass in the lineup, Bradley has been the only reserve confident enough to pull the trigger (maybe outside of Mickael Pietrus beyond the arc).
Avery Bradley plays some of the best perimeter defense in the NBA and slashes to the basket extremely well, but it has become apparent that another asset would be needed for him to become anything more than a role player in this league. If his mid-range jump shot can continue to splash like it has these past three games on a consistent basis, we very well may have a special player here. Not only does he have perfect looking form on this shot, he also gets great lift. Let's hope that his jump shooting problems are solved for good and he can now excel on the offensive side of the ball.