Celtics guard Avery Bradley is setting his sights on the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year award for the 2016-17 season.
Speaking with ESPN’s Chris Forsberg, Bradley said a personal goal for the season is to dethrone two-time defensive player of the year winner, Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard.
"That’s my goal: To be Defensive Player of the Year," Bradley said Monday morning while unveiling a Celtics-themed basketball court for the Goentzel family of Belmont as part of a community initiative that will see Bradley unveil two more courts later this week. "I feel like [the award is] possible for me if I go out there with the right mindset."
Bradley is coming off a 2015-16 season where he earned a spot on the All-NBA defensive first team, receiving the most first-team votes among guards and third to Leonard and Golden State’s Draymond Green. As for the DPOY award voting, the Celtics’ combo guard finished sixth behind the likes of Leonard and Green.
A guard has not won the Defensive Player of the Year award since Gary Payton in 1996 and a Celtics player has not won it since Kevin Garnett in 2008.
The 25-year-old Texas product hopes to bring a balance of aggressive individual defense and disciplined team D on the hardwood this season.
"The only thing I wanted to change in the past was being a little bit more disciplined on the defensive end," Bradley told Forsberg. "Last year I was definitely disciplined. I didn’t reach as much; I was trying to be solid to help our team. But this year is going to be a mix of both because I feel like I’m capable of being even better because I got a chance to learn from my mistakes in the past and now I know exactly what I need to do."
Bradley is the longest-tenured player on the roster and he says he’s 100% recovered from a ‘significant hamstring strain’ that ended his season in game 1 of the first round playoff series against the Atlanta Hawks. Healthy and ball-hawking, Bradley is ready to take aim at the Defensive Player of the Year award.