- Chris Forsberg, ESPN Staff Writer
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After a breakout year, will Avery Bradley take another step this season?Each weekday for a three-week span, ESPN Boston colleague Greg Payne and I are playing a game of over/under while trying to predict the potential production for a Celtics player during the 2012-13 campaign. Today's target: Avery Bradley.
Games played: 66
* Forsberg: Over. Even as he rehabs from a pair of shoulder surgeries, you have to believe the Celtics will have to bolt Bradley down to keep him off the floor once the games matter. During his sophomore season, he appeared in a team-high 64 regular-season games. With offseason additions like Jason Terry and Courtney Lee, the Celtics do have the luxury of bringing Bradley back slowly, but once he's back, the guess here is that he won't leave the floor unless those shoulders -- or other body parts -- pop off again.
* Payne: Under. If Bradley did not return before Christmas, that would automatically eliminate 27 games from his season. The good news for Bradley is the C's are pretty stacked at his position, so he doesn't have to rush his return. Let the 21-year old take his time, get healthy, and gear up for a ferocious January through June stint.
Points per game: 7.6
* Forsberg: Over. Bradley's playing time ramped up over the final 30 games of the 2011-12 season and his post-All-Star numbers show he averaged 10.4 points over 24.9 minutes per game (what's more, that jumped to 15.1 points over 32.9 minutes per contest in 15 April appearances). So long as Bradley is healthy and can resume his sneaky back-door cuts (and re-discover that confidence in his jumper), he can easily leapfrog his overall scoring average from last season.
* Payne: Under. It's difficult to predict how things will shake out between Bradley, Lee, and Terry. Will Lee spend some time at the small forward spot? Will Bradley work as well off the bench alongside Terry (at least when he first returns)? Plus, there won't be much of an onus on Bradley to score this season. His defense is more valuable, as the second unit should have plenty of firepower already.
Steals per game: 1.0
* Forsberg: Over. What's crazy is that -- as tenacious an on-ball defender as Bradley is -- he's recorded only 52 steals in 95 career games. Now, it's a bit like those hockey assists (where a player who makes the first of two passes to set up a scorer doesn't get any recognition) -- Bradley's defense undoubtedly led to deflections or bad passes that translated into opposing-team turnovers. Regardless, his individual steal numbers will almost certainly rise this season.
* Payne: Over. It's a shame end-to-end lockdown defense can't be considered a statistic, but Bradley should be playing enough of it to conjure at least one swipe per game and probably more. The fact that he'll most likely be assigned the primary ball-handler or scoring guard of whatever unit he's up against should only help his chances of stealing the ball and pushing it the other way.
Defensive Player of the Year voting: 20 points
* Forsberg: Over. First, for reference, hop HERE to see the voting breakdown for last year's Defensive Player of the Year. Bradley earned a single vote for 2 points, while a 20-point haul would have earned him a spot in the back end of the top 10. Given that Bradley put himself on the national radar with his breakout play at the end of last season, chances are he'll have more eyeballs on his defensive exploits this season and that will translate to more votes. The question is whether he can make the big leap towards Kevin Garnett (44 points, 5th place in last season's voting).
* Payne: Over. Missing as much as a quarter of the season might hurt Bradley's chances in this area, but last season he really established his defensive reputation and began getting some league-wide recognition for it. That'll be his biggest weapon when he returns, as people will be eager to see that intensity back on the floor. Last year, 20-ish points would have put him in line with Shawn Marion and Luol Deng, and it doesn't feel like a stretch to say that Bradley, even at a different position, will have a greater impact on the opposite side of the ball than those two.
4dMatt Walks, ESPN.com
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