In ESPN's Summer Forecast, I pegged Avery Bradley as next season's MVP. With the comfort of his new 4-year deal and finally a season where he and Rondo could both be healthy, I've got a feeling he's going to make the jump. Kevin covered his improved shooting from late last season and this afternoon at his basketball camp in Dartmouth, AB talked about the team's outlook on the other side of the ball:
"Everyone keeps telling me that Marcus is a great defender and ... I'm excited about that," said Bradley. "Because Rondo is a great defender as well. Last year, he still played great defense, but this year I feel like he's going to take it to an even different level. I feel like we have a chance to be a top-10 defensive team in the NBA this year."
That will be music to the ears of Stevens, who challenged his team to be a top-10 defense last season (and the Celtics flirted with that for much of the first half before eroding late and trudging to a 25-57 record).
As Forsberg points out, the Celtics were very good on defense to start the year with Bradley starting at point guard and Jeff Green and Gerald Wallace on the wings. This season, Bradley should start alongside Rondo with Green still at small forward. That's a formidable threesome on the perimeter backed up by the rookie Marcus Smart, Crash, and Phil Pressey. Still without a true rim protector at center, Boston will have to rely heavily on minimizing ball penetration and defending the 3-point line. Sounds like Avery is up to the task.