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CelticsBlog staff roundtable discussion on Avery Bradley

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Will the real Avery Bradley please stand up?

David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

The following two questions popped up back-to-back in my mailbag from earlier this week.

Glen B

Why are so many people on this Blog always looking to trade Avery Bradley? He is just 24 and is continuing to improve.

jakeallen317

Am I the only one that sees Avery Bradley as being expendable now? He has a reasonable contract considering the cap increase and we need more minutes for these other young guns like RD Hunter and James Young

I thought that was pretty funny but it got me thinking. Avery Bradley is kind of the forgotten man in Boston right now. He's simultaneously underrated and overrated by various groups on the blog. So I thought it would be fun to start a discussion among the authors of this site.  Here's how it went.

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Jeff Clark

I'm having a hard time sorting out where we are with Avery Bradley. On one hand, he's slowly morphed into a veteran leader, but does that mean he's too old to improve his game much more? He's known as a defensive specialist, but he might not even be the best defending guard on his own team anymore. All the point guard experiments have failed, but can he shoot well enough to be an effective shooting guard? Help me sort this out.

wjsy

Personally, I love Avery, but the biggest problem--which comes at no fault of his own--was that he spent the first three years of his Celtics career developing under Doc Rivers. Doc loves his specialists and I think to him, Avery was always a very good defender and Doc didn't mind if all his energy was used on that side of the ball. Unfortunately, I think that stunted AB's growth and it's now only under Brad Stevens that we've seen slow improvement in his game. You can see that he tends to expend less effort on defense in order to be more effective on offense.

Tim MacLean

I don't think we should be in any rush to move Avery Bradley. Like Bill said, he was kind of thrown into a specialist role under Doc and now that Brad is giving him some freedom offensively you can see his development on that end of the floor. We have him on a great contract and he's still only 24. Do I think he will grow into an All-Star caliber player? No. But he's definitely a good piece to have. If he continues to add more and more aspects to his game on offense, especially off the dribble and from long range, I think he's worth hanging onto.

wjsy

Preach, Tim. If someone that loves stats has some actual numbers about Avery's improvement, now would be a great time.

Kevin O'Connor

You asked for some numbers, Bill: http://www.celticsblog.com/2015/5/7/8564299/heres-whats-next-for-the-development-of-boston-celtics-guard-avery

Sean Penney

Avery Bradley is a fine player, but he is what he is at this point. An elite perimeter defender that can hit the corner three. That's valuable in today's NBA, especially when you factor in his reasonable contract that will only look better as the salary cap explodes. He's capable of being a quality role player on a contending team, but the problem is that this Celtics roster is filled with quality role players. These attributes are also what makes him an enticing trade piece. Given their crowded backcourt situation, the Celtics may find Bradley expendable if the opportunity comes along to assemble a package that allows them to upgrade to the star they covet. Otherwise Bradley may eventually end up being pushed aside for younger players with more upside.

wjsy

Well, for what it's worth, Bradley will only be 27 when his current contract expires three seasons from now.

Wes Howard

I'd like to echo Sean's thoughts, for the most part. Bradley still has room to grow, and has been improving, particularly with his shot. I think his 3-pt shooting will to continue to improve, as will his selection. Right now, he brings a good midrange shot (particularly off of a pick-and-roll handoff), the ability to shoot effectively from the corners, and great defensive pressure and intensity on point guards. While he has room to improve, he will never be a star. He is a good role player, and may become a great role player, but based on how he has improved thus far, that will likely be his ceiling. That (combined with the team's redundancy at his position) is what makes him a trade candidate.

wjsy

I'd hate to see Avery Bradley traded. Does anybody think that R.J. Hunter or James Young are the answer at the 2?

Tim MacLean

Bill, it's hard to say, really. Most of you know how I feel about James Young but it's important to remember that he's still only 20 years old. If he can learn those fundamentals on the defensive end that I've talked about and can become just 100x more confident offensively--off the dribble and otherwise--then who knows what could happen. Both he and Hunter have good size for the 2-guard position at around 6'5"-6'7". Hunter is obviously a lot further along in the developmental process since he played 3 years of college ball but if I had to say right now, I'm not positive the starting 2-guard that's going to help us get back to being a contender is on our roster right now.

Kevin O'Connor

A lot of people view Avery Bradley under the microscope of his usage last season: lots of pick-and-roll and dribble handoffs. And because of an increase in usage, he's likely unable to expound the same level of energy on the defensive end. But as the team improves, Bradley's role will likely drop and his efficiency will rise. We could see more spot up shooting from him. Because he wouldn't be a primary option, he would likely see preferable match-ups, and he'd be able to go balls to the wall on defense, just like he did years ago.

Wes Howard

To speak to your question, Bill, I'd actually say that the player on the roster with the best chance of being our 2-guard of the future is Marcus Smart. Given his size, propensity to shoot off the catch, and deficiency handling the ball through perimeter pressure, I'm still not convinced that he doesn't project as a better 2 than a 1. Rozier and Hunter (or Young) might represent more of a bench backcourt of the future, with Smart and Thomas as the starters.

Jeff Clark

Great discussion guys. So let's try to wrap this up.

Let's try to answer the question of "should we keep Avery or trade him?" Obviously that's an "it depends" kind of question. So give me the kind of situation where you'd be comfortable trading Bradley. Would you only be happy moving him as part of a package for a star? Or would you be willing to use him to unclog the roster in exchange for more trade chips? What would you like in return (in general)?

Tim MacLean

At this point, if you have to trade him, I'd want him to be a part of a package that brings back a star. The Celtics have an embarrassment of tradable pieces/draft picks. I think it's time they start putting them to good use to bring back difference makers. Collecting assets is always great. You never complain about that. But there comes a time where you have to put them to use. I think that time is, if not now, right around the corner for Danny.

Sean Penney

The Celtics should only trade Bradley if one of the following opportunities presents itself.

1) In a package to acquire a star player.
2) If we acquire a player significantly better than Bradley that plays the same position, thereby further reducing his role and making him more expendable.

Don't trade him for the sake of trading him or to acquire more assets. We have plenty of those. Boston needs to take another step this season by finishing with a winning record and putting up a better fight in the postseason so that they can become a more desirable destination. Bradley can help this team this year and trading him for draft picks or younger players would be a step back.

wjsy

I'm going to respectfully abstain from the question. I've always thought of Bradley as a Joe Dumars-type player that could play great next to a star (paging Marcus Smart) and I want him to be part of this team when Banner 18 goes up in the rafters.

Wes Howard

I'd feel comfortable if he was being packaged for a player of Demarcus Cousins' caliber. I think he's a real leader in the locker room, and a good complimentary player on the court, so I wouldn't feel comfortable with him getting traded for nothing more than slightly more "valuable" assets.

Kevin O'Connor

Avery Bradley is exactly the type of player you love to have a championship contender. He's a team-first player. He's on a team-friendly contract. He plays hard on defense. He's a complementary scorer. He has improved every season of his career. He has made a number of clutch plays in his career. With that in mind, I wouldn't trade him unless it was as part of a significant upgrade.

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Thanks authors!  Now it is your turn readers.  What do you think of Avery Bradley?