Avery Bradley shot more deep two-pointers last season than every guard in the NBA. But Bradley now understands that spotting up one step deeper and unloading a three is a more efficient shot.
MORE ON AVERY BRADLEY
MORE ON AVERY BRADLEY
"Obviously that's what direction we're going in, because long twos don't make as much sense as a three-pointer," Bradley said at Celtics Media Day. "I know I can help my team out a lot and I definitely feel like I improved, so hopefully I can go out there and put it into my game."
Bradley attempted 255 two-pointers from 20 feet or deeper last season, per NBA Savant, significantly more than the next highest guard (JJ Redick was second with 168). Of all NBA players, only Blake Griffin took more, with 273.
Of the 112 players with a minimum of 50 shots in this zone, Bradley ranks 37th in field goal percentage (41.2 percent), so he's hitting at a fair rate.
The issue is, as Bradley alluded to, they still don't make as much sense as a three-pointer. Hitting 41.2 percent of 20-foot two-point jumpers equates to 0.82 points per possession. Bradley shot 33.2 percent from above the break, which is a significantly better 0.99 points per possession.
Bradley has taken on the responsibility of a scorer and he's shot more threes each year.
Bradley's above the break three-point attempts have risen consistently and it's fair to expect that trajectory to continue this season, considering his history and the understanding at Media Day that it's a more efficient shot.
Brad Stevens and the Celtics can get Bradley into more advantageous situations in two ways: running more sets to get him threes and training him to side dribble when a defender closes out on him.
One of Boston's go-to plays is a dribble handoff for Bradley:
This play was usually run with the goal being a mid-range two, and not a three.
Interestingly, as part of Bradley's increasing volume of three-pointers, here's a similar play the Celtics began to run at the end of last season:
This play is clearly run with the intent of a three-point attempt (or a drive to the basket if he's covered), and it's something the Celtics could gradually use more.
The Celtics can also influence Bradley to shoot more threes by training him to use a side dribble to pull up from three, instead of 19 or 20-feet.
Here's what we're used to seeing from Bradley, moving into his sweet spot after the defender closes out. Bradley hit one dribble pull up jumpers from 20-plus feet at 42.9 percent.
But Bradley could use a side dribble or step back to launch threes, which he hit off one dribble at 34.1 percent.
Bradley has shown he's capable of taking one dribble to make the aggressive defender pay, but now he could start doing it more frequently. It's a more efficient play, and a higher level of efficiency from individual players could be the difference between making the playoffs or not.
The chart above details Bradley's evolution as a shooter in the Stevens era.
In 2013-14, he rarely attempted threes above the break, but last year took them more frequently. But his shots at the rim declined, and his mid-range jumpers were higher than the average sharpshooter. Going forward, we could see Bradley's shots from above the break begin to approach his frequency from mid-range.
"I'm really confident [in extending my range]," Bradley said. "It's something that I worked on a lot this summer to try and make it a comfortable shot for me."
Maybe this will be the year Avery Bradley makes the big leap from the mid-range to beyond the arc.