Avery Bradley didn't work his way into the rotation because of his offense. It was his defense that made him known to the NBA, and that sent chills down every guard's spine. Bradley's defense hasn't changed that much, but despite having solid shooting percentages last year, this year Bradley's shooting has been horrible.
Last season, Bradley averaged 7.6 points a game, shooting 49.8% from the field, and 40.7% from 3-point range in 21.4 minutes a game. Bradley had the 5th highest eFG% on the Celtics. Ray Allen was the only player that wasn't a center that had a higher eFG% than Avery Bradley, and even then, Ray Allen's career-high 45% 3-point shooting had a big impact on his eFG%.
This season, Bradley is averaging 9.3 points a game, shooting 40.2% from the field, and 31.6% from 3-point range in 29 minutes. Bradley's eFG% is a miserable 44.2%, which is the lowest eFG% of anybody in the Celtics' rotation. The only thing keeping Avery Bradley on the court right now (other than all of the injuries) is his defense, otherwise he probably wouldn't even be starting.
Why has Bradley's offense been so poor? There could be many reasons, but here are my top 3.
1) Bradley is coming of season-ending surgery to repair both shoulders. I have no idea what it's like to have surgery on your shoulders, but I do know what it's like to shoot so much that your shoulders get sore, and if you try to continue shooting through sore shoulders, you'll see your shooting percentages drop.
2) Bradley is shooting a lot more than last season, as opposed to laying it up. Last year, Bradley attempted 402 field goals. Out of those 402, 178 of them have come within 5 feet or less of the basket (that's where the majority of his attempts and makes came from), and you could see it with all of the backdoor cuts that Bradley made. Bradley had an eFG% of 62.4% in that area, which needless to say, is very good.
This season, Bradley's shot-of-choice is the mid-range jumper. He's taking a lot more jump shots early in the shot clock, and only finishing them with an eFG% of 40.6%. What makes matters even worse is that even when he's close to the basket, Bradley STILL has a difficult time finishing. Bradley's eFG% less than 5 feet away from the basket is a measly 46.3%.
3) Rondo's absence. Avery Bradley plays much better without the ball. With Rondo gone, Bradley finds himself taking on more point guard duties, which clearly isn't his strong suit. In addition, Rondo is one of the best in the league in finding cutters. Once you take that away, you sort of force Bradley to play with the ball more often than he'd like, limiting his backdoor layup attempts.
Avery Bradley is an extremely young player with a lot of growing to do. His offensive game is going to continue to improve, and even his defense may improve even more (which would be scary). For right now though, I would have to put a cap on Bradley's shot attempts. There should be no reason why a player with an eFG% of 44.2%, should be averaging almost 10 shots a game, on a team where he's not the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, or even 4th option on offense.
What are your thoughts? Why do you believe Bradley has struggled so much offensively? Can Bradley turn things around?