When Avery Bradley first entered the NBA, he did so with a reputation for being a pretty good outside shooter. But his first season and a half threatened to tear that reputation down. He couldn't hit anything. Each midrange jumper counted as an adventure. Every shot carried the potential to miss by five feet and maim a backboard or spectator or maybe even an opponent if Bradley was lucky. His second year, things changed. He added the corner three to his repertoire, started hitting shots a lot more frequently, and put together a beautiful second half of the season during which he supplanted Ray Allen in the starting lineup and the Celtics transformed from a mediocre club into a quasi-juggernaut. But still, Bradley mostly just spotted up in the corner. He hardly ever tried above-the-break threes because he wasn't comfortable with doing so. For the most part, he didn't shoot off the move, presumably for one of two reasons: he didn't need to or he didn't think he could. As we look at Bradley's arc of shooting improvement, I'm fine with throwing out his third season. He was coming off double shoulder surgery, after all. Then-assistant coach Ty Lue warned Bradley he would go through "a bad stretch" shooting the ball, and the guard said he didn't even disagree. He hoped he could prove the coach wrong but did not fully believe he could. And when Lue's fears proved warranted, the coach told Bradley, "I told you." As Bradley told me earlier this season, "Sometimes I even forget: sh--, I had double shoulder surgery. My shot kind of changed a lot." So yeah, I'm OK with overlooking his woes from the floor in 2012-13. But still, entering this year, Bradley could point to just a three-month period where he made shots. That's it. During his whole career. And those were mostly spot-up corner threes that happened because everybody else in the starting lineup warranted more attention. When I point out the 23-year-old's three-point improvements, I do not just mean the basketball is falling through the nets more often. Sure, he knocked down five of six triples Saturday night against the Cleveland Cavaliers, four of five the night before, and all four attempts the game before that, making him a blistering 13 for 16 since returning from an injury three games ago. But makes will come and go. I'm more impressed by the type of shots he's hitting and even attempting. He's not just spotting up in the corners anymore. He's flaring to the wing. He's pushing his midrange jumpers back behind the arc. He's relocating behind the line when his teammates get doubled in the post.
Avery Bradley making significant 3-point changes at end of Boston Celtics season
Mass Live | Apr 13