|Posted by shawn cassidy on October 1, 2013 at 12:55 PM|
It's hard to explain the feelings that you feel after losing a parent, and the same could be said when having your first born child . Avery Bradley had both happen to him this summer. I can't even imagine those two feelings running through my mind. Bradley seems to be using basketball is a tool for therapy. Bradley is looking for a bigger role this season, and on his request many obstacles face him.
"I've just been trying to focus on basketball," he said. "I'm just worrying about this upcoming season, just trying to worry about whatever I can do to help this team."
"Last year, I think he'd be the first to tell you he didn't play as well
as he was capable of playing," said Ainge. "He didn't play as free as
he would like to play. I think he's mentally stronger having gone
through that and I'm hoping that we'll have the Avery of that second
year this year."
Being healthy will help that. Bradley says he feels "amazing right now" when it comes to his shoulders. He also looks forward to participating in the first training camp of his career, something that had been prevented by injuries in years past.
Part of being in training camp means being to work with the coaches on the court rather than studying game film with them and walking through drills. Bradley has embraced head coach Brad Stevens, who was hired this summer following the departure of Doc Rivers, with open arms. The two have already spent hours together in offseason workouts and discussions about hoops.
"He's a very great guy," said Bradley. "We've all been calling him a basketball junkie because he truly loves the game. In these few weeks I've been here, I've been able to learn so much from him. I respect him a lot and I appreciate him because he just wants to see everybody succeed and he's taught us a lot since we've been here."
Stevens has begun sharing point guard know-how with Bradley, a position he could play this season while Rajon Rondo recovers from ACL surgery. Bradley has played at the one spot the past and says he is open to stepping into any role the team asks of him. Even though Bradley's previous point guard experience often included Paul Pierce, Ainge believes he can succeed in the position without his former teammate.
"A lot of his point guard play we were able to win because we had Paul facilitate a lot of the offense," said Ainge. "It will be different this year, we don't have Paul, we'll have to run different things. Do I think he can play minutes at the point guard? Absolutely."
Ainge is right, Paul took the duties as ball handler many times with Bradley on the court. With Rondo out until December, Bradley seems to be the choice right now, even though his ball handling skills are not ideal for a point guard. Bradley had a breakthrough sophomore year during the 2011-12 season, and he earned Ray Allen's starting role. Last season, AB missed the first 33 games because of the season ending shoulder injuries that he faced during the 2011-12 playoffs. AB's role on this team is defensive leader. He will be asked to be vocal, much like KG, and the question is if he can do that? He's a soft spoken guy, and it seems his leadership is based on leading by example. His defensive is contagious.
As for Jeff Green, he's taking KG's words to heart. "I'm going to continue to use the words of Kevin Garnett: Be an asshole." Green is looked as a leader with the Celtics, especially with Rondo out. The big question is how will they do it together. Most teams have their roles. The recent "Big 3" had their ship roles. KG was the vocal leader, and spiritual leader. Paul was the rock of the team, who also had a voice. Paul was the offense, and KG was the defense. Ray Allen was the guy that set an example. He was early to practice, and the last to leave, and on game day he was the first one on the court getting practice shots up.
AB, Jeff, and Rondo can all be leaders. But they need to know who is who. Rondo needs to be the alpha leader of this team, and Green needs to be the guy backing him up, and sharing the same goal. As for Bradley, he's the guy that needs to be solid, and he needs to set the example on the defensive. The Celtics will need Rondo to return to his All-Defensive form, but AB is the guy for that. Rondo is controlling the offense.
Rondo wasn't able to take this team over, because it was ran by two Hall of Fame players that demanded the locker room. Rondo has watched two of the best for years, and it's his turn whether he likes or not.