Chris Forsberg caught up with Avery Bradley at a charity event today where they talked about his recovery from double shoulder surgery and the additions of Courtney Lee and Jason Terry. In true AB form, the 21-year-old from Seattle answered with the modesty we've grown to love from him as Celtics fans:
"I'm just ready to do whatever my team needs me to do," said Bradley. "I'm just going to be prepared and ready to go out there and do my role, and do whatever my team needs me to do to win games...
"I think [the offseason moves are] great. I think it's great for our team. We have some good players -- Courtney Lee, Jason Terry... it's just exciting to see what [Celtics president of basketball operations] Danny [Ainge has] done with the team. I just can't wait for the season to start."
He didn't give a definitive timetable for his return (although a Forsberg source mentioned he could be back by training camp), but I started to do some of the math in my head. His first surgery was on May 30th and after his left shoulder was stable, his second surgery was on July 10th. If his right shoulder reacts the same way, both shoulders could be stable by the end of August. That'll give Avery roughly two months for rehab before the start of the season. Dr. Google has most recovery timelines at around three months, so we could theoretically see Avery terrorizing opposing teams back courts by early December. We've got a home-and-home against the Sixers on December 7th and 8th. Avery's last game: Game 4 in Philadelphia. Cue the Rocky music.
Forsberg also got AB's thoughts on the man he replaced in the starting lineup, Ray Allen. Bradley called Ray "a great tutor," even after student surpassed student:
"He would tell me, going back to being consistent, he would tell me to shoot the same shot -- that my jump shot should be like my 3-pointer, and that's what I focused on every time I would shoot before or after practice," Bradley said. "It was funny, when I wouldn't do it, he would always get up and say something to me. Like, 'That's not how you shoot jumpers.' He would always call me out."
Bradley will miss that guidance, even if he knows veteran additions such as Jason Terry and Courtney Lee will also help advance his offensive game. Allen's departure for rival Miami left Bradley disappointed.
"We're a family before anything, as you can tell," Bradley said. "We're really like a family. Doc, I look at him like a father, and [teammates] are all like brothers. It's tough [losing Allen], but we all wish him the best. All we can do is keep moving on."
With Ray out and Avery on the mend, there's been a lot of speculation on who should start alongside Rondo when everybody's healthy. In a previous article, I suggested that Lee keep the starting shooting guard position even when Avery's back and I'll expand on that a little more. To me, it's a matter of combinations. The chemistry between Rondo and Bradley is undeniable; Bradley isn't the shooter that Ray was but he he did shoot a very respectable 41% from beyond the arc in the regular season when he was healthy and was adept at cutting back door when Rondo drew in the defense. There's no doubt that those guys are going to share the floor a lot.
From what I've seen of Courtney Lee, he's predominantly a kick-out jump shooter who occasionally will shot fake and take it to the rim. He's a younger version of Ray Allen who also plays defense. It's his perimeter game that'll help the space the floor for the other starters (particularly Pierce and Garnett). I think Lee starts, but Bradley definitely spends half of Rondo's playing time with him, too. It's a daisy chain of complementing abilities: Rondo starts --> Lee fills in for Ray --> Bradley subs for Lee with defensive pressure and energy --> Terry subs in for Rondo in the "sixth man" role as the lead scorer off the bench.
Ultimately, starting is irrelevant with this team, especially at shooting guard and especially now with the Swiss Army knife bench that Danny constructed this summer. Let's not forget that we're also going to see a lot of three-guard lineups next season. Danny didn't pick up another 4 or 5, opting for small ball with Jeff Green sliding in for Garnett and Bass for a few minutes here and there. I'm sure there will be nights when Lee, Bradley, or Terry might only see 15 minutes of PT, but long term, Doc's going to rely heavily on that three-headed monster. They're all such different players with a variety of skill sets and every game, quarter, and situation is going to call for something different. Defense? We got it. Shooting? We got it. Speed? We got it. Clutch? We got it.