Tuesday, August 7, 2012
Bradley: Ray Allen 'was a great tutor'
By Chris Forsberg
MONSON, Mass. -- Boston Celtics shooting guard Avery Bradley showered former teammate Ray Allen with praise Tuesday for the veteran's role in developing his offensive skills over the past two seasons.
Bradley carved out a reserve spot in the rotation last season based on his defensive talents, but he credited Allen with helping his offensive skills emerge, which culminated when Bradley moved into the starting lineup -- taking Allen's spot -- late in the 2011-12 campaign.
"Ray was a great tutor," said Bradley, who struggled with his ability to generate offense early in his NBA career but blossomed last season as he became more confident in his jump shot.
"I'm sad that he's gone, but we all wish the best for him. But he definitely meant a lot. He helped me out every single day. Sometimes I'd just be working out and he'd be watching on the side. He'd get up and tell me what I needed to work on, or tell me how I can be more consistent. I really thank him for that."
Bradley shot a mere 34.3 percent from the floor during his rookie season, and those struggles trickled into his second season, particularly as the Celtics worked to develop him as a backup point guard.
Once the team put the focus on Bradley as a shooting guard, he flourished. His confidence grew as he utilized his cutting ability to generate easy hoops, and his jump shot -- something coach Doc Rivers swore he showcased during the team's practices -- soon followed.
Bradley averaged 7.6 points over 21.4 minutes per game while shooting 49.8 percent from the floor last season, all while starting a total of 28 games in a team-high 64 appearances.
"Ever since my rookie year, all [the veterans would help] because I was so open to learning," Bradley said. "But especially Ray. Once I started playing the 2-guard, he wanted to help me out, so that I could be the best 2-guard I could be."
Allen probably didn't expect it to cost him his starting role, but Bradley's impact on the defensive end, particularly when running with the first unit, was impossible to ignore. Once the offensive aspect of his game came along, he was cemented in the starting lineup while Allen battled ankle woes.
Despite taking that starting role, Bradley stressed that Allen never stopped mentoring him. The one thing that Bradley best absorbed was Allen's insistence that he never alter his form, regardless of shot location on the floor.
"He would tell me, going back to being consistent, he would tell me to shoot the same shot -- that my jump shot should be like my 3-pointer, and that's what I focused on every time I would shoot before or after practice," Bradley said. "It was funny, when I wouldn't do it, he would always get up and say something to me. Like, 'That's not how you shoot jumpers.' He would always call me out."
Bradley will miss that guidance, even if he knows veteran additions such as Jason Terry and Courtney Lee will also help advance his offensive game. Allen's departure for rival Miami left Bradley disappointed.
"We're a family before anything, as you can tell," Bradley said. "We're really like a family. Doc, I look at him like a father, and [teammates] are all like brothers. It's tough [losing Allen], but we all wish him the best. All we can do is keep moving on."
Bradley expressed uncertainty about when he'll be able to resume basketball activities. A source close to the player suggested last month that he's still targeting a training camp return, but the Celtics expressed a possibility that he could miss the start of the regular season after undergoing two shoulder surgeries over the past three months.
Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said last month that he was uncertain when Bradley would return and left open the possibility that he could be ready for camp if his rehab progresses well.
For his part, Bradley -- appearing at a promotional event Tuesday to dedicate a Celtics-themed court makeover for the Dill family, whose home was ravaged by the tornadoes that ripped through Western Massachusetts last year -- said he'll simply be ready whenever he's called upon -- regardless of role.
"I'm just ready to do whatever my team needs me to do," Bradley said. "I'm just going to be prepared and ready to go out there and do my role, and do whatever my team needs me to do to win games."
|Avery Bradley, right, credits Ray Allen, left, for helping him develop as a shooter. |