Hello loyal reader(s)! This is my first blog post from New York City (concretejunglewheredreamsaremadeof) so if I sound more hipstery, you know why. Speaking of hipsters, Avery Bradley is a fine young man.
Despite an awful second half of the season for the Longhorns, making both me and coach Rick Barnes look terrible in the process, AB was fairly impressive. He would've been better served hanging around UT for another year to hone is point guard skills, but in a weak guard draft like this, I can't blame him for playing an extended game of hooky (especially since Texas recruited point guard Cory Joseph, the eighth-ranked player in his class for next season).
Hit the jump for the usual suspects, in bold of course.
Sinbad Memorial Skillset: Something most
freshmen people basketball players don't like to do is play defense. Avery embraces it. While you could hardly call him consistent in his first season, his tenacity and aggressiveness on the defensive end was always evident. I can recall a specific time against Oklahoma State when he was guarding Obi Muonelo and James Anderson at different parts of the game, both with four inches on him - He goes hard against bigger guys.
For whatever reason, my Synergy isn't working right now so I can't get you the exact numbers on his jumper, but I know his catch and shoot percentages were more than solid (his form is golden). He definitely projects to be a respectable shooter at the next level.
It was disappointing to see Texas fall apart at the end of the season basically because of its lack of guard play, so there are definitely red flags about his ability to run the point based on what he's shown so far.
UPSIDE: He's probably too small for the two on most teams, but if you pair him with a taller, play-making point guard (Jrue Holiday please. Check this out if you don't believe me), they should be able to handle the other team's backcourt pretty well defensively.
Develop his jump shot, tell him to play off the ball and get to the basket more, then let him do his thing on D and I think you've got an NBA starter on your hands (which begs the question, why are you holding an NBA starter in your hands? Creep.). Anywhere from late lottery to early 20's, AB is a solid pick.
Feelings of Former School: I went to none other than SB Nation's Burnt Orange Nation (formerly of the Department of Redundancy Department) and Peter Bean for his words on the freshman point guard. Via e-mail (per usual):
The tricky thing about Avery Bradley is figuring out his upside, which if you squint just right can appear, well, ridiculous. But through clearer lenses his limitations suggest he's short of a star, and if things go well is 'merely' a capable, useful starter.
Bradley's two primary assets are his explosive athleticism and offensive versatility -- the kid features an old school mid-range game that would make Vinny Johnson proud. Unfortunately, at least in his one year at Texas, he didn't show a great ability to use that filthy athleticism to be a great penetrator, and if that aspect of his game develops a lot, he could be a guy who averages 15 ppg. His shooting stroke from beyond the arc is solid, but he's streaky, and when he goes cold, he gets tentative as a player.
You'll hear a lot about Bradley's defense, and it's all correct. Texas coach Rick Barnes called him the best freshman defender he'd ever seen, and he's had some good ones. Overall, Bradley probably lacks the handles to be a true point and the consistency outside to be a lethal scorer as a two-guard, but his defense, athleticism, and overall ability make him -- in my opinion -- a potential starter on a playoff team. If he slips through the first round, he'll be a steal for a quality team late.
Looks: Oddly enough, every time I look at Avery Bradley (which is often) he looks different to me. Whether or not he is a shape-shifter remains to be seen. To other people less in touch with the magical realm, he's got that tough lip look that you don't want to mess with, especially if he's in your grill on D. Clean-cut dude, I approve (Of what, I'm not sure).
Career if it wasn't Basketball (according to me): Entomologist. Call it a hunch.
Scott Schroeder BREAKING NEWS: Scott Schroeder has pulled out of the Draft for the 8th straight year, a new record for the town of Bismarck, North Dakota. Indeed a sad day for the Bemidji State Beavers.