|Posted by GeeZeeCeltics on April 9, 2012 at 11:45 AM|
When you hear discussions about who should be the 2011-12 NBA MIP, you hear Kris Humphries being mentioned. Jeremy Lin. James Harden. Nikola Pekovic. Heck, Kevin Love. But why is Avery Bradley not there?
In the beginning of the season, Avery was completely lost on offense. Honestly, he was detrimental to the team. It was hard to watch through my fingers how Bradley bricked midrange shots so hard it seemed like he was trying to shatter the backboard. He was unable to run the team, even protect the ball at times. Zero confidence. Often stuffed at the rim. You name it. On defense, he was marvellous. On offense, he was a mess.
However, that's when the Cutter arrived.
There are two things that are behind the run the Celtics are on right now: it's KG's return to being a 20-10 guy and it's Avery's resurgence. I think that Rondo's assist streak is a product of this - these two are helping him help them. (Yeah, I've heard that before. Ubuntu, guys.) With KG, it has something to do with him just taking and making more shots. With Bradley, though, it's on a whole another level.
All of the things I named earlier that frustrated everyone about Bradley? Gone. We have seen him blossom before our very own eyes. This rennaisance began after Bradley was instructed by Doc to do a simple thing - if your defender looks away from you, cut to the basket. This is very simple, but sometimes the simple is, in fact, genius.
This new playing style for Bradley instantly made him into a different player. Playing along side Rondo, with the vision he has, cutting to the basket undetected is almost a sure bucket because if it's possible, Rajon will find you. The result was astounding. Avery's confidence picked up instantly as he made layup after layup, frustrating opposing defenses. And that was all that was necessary to open the floodgates.
The Cutter was born - a player who no longer looked like a deer in the headlights, someone who stepped into shots with confidence, who now took the ball to the rack with more oomph than before. Bradley even seems to begin making friends with the corner three - he's made a few from there. And even his point guard play - which seemingly has no connection with cuts to the basket - has picked up. He dished out five assists yesterday, at times making a few plays that reminded me of Rajon Rondo (him finding Ray in the corner for a three was very similar to that).
Speaking of that, he is apparently putting things he's learned from the vets to the test - I've seen him shoot layups very quickly, trying to hit the backboard as fast as possible. I also noticed this with Rondo before. This has resulted in goaltends two or three times against Avery, with the opposing big trying to block the shot. And even Pavlovic could teach Bradley something about using contact when driving to the basket. (I think there is also this one other Pierce guy who knows something or other about driving and contact but oh well.)
So why on Earth is Bradley not in the Most Improved Player talks? I have no idea. Perhaps it has something to do with not being too showtime. Avery's style is one of tenacity, not flamboyance. But, anyway, who cares. After all, it's the wins that are piling up, and that's what matters.