For those of you who are Boston Celtics fans like myself, you probably could have just read the title, said ‘yes’, and moved on to the next article. For those of you who took the time to read this, I appreciate it and will attempt to help you understand why Bradley was left off being officially recognized as a top NBA defender. While Avery Bradley certainly passed the eye test to make an All-Defensive team, there are some reasons that can be argued as to why his ‘snub’ may not be as egregious as many say it is. Bradley’s statistics also speak for themselves; 1.2 steals per game, .2 blocks per game, and a defensive win share of 2.0.
The first reason I think that Avery Bradley was left off of the All-Defensive teams this year is because all of the previously mentioned statistical categories are down from last year. Bradley averaged 1.5 steals per game, .3 blocks per game, and a defensive win share of 2.8 in the 2016-17 season and made the All-Defensive First Team. The first name that I saw for who made the All-Defensive teams that made me angry about Bradley’s snub was former Boston Celtic Tony Allen. However, Allen arguably had a better season this past year than the year when Bradley did make the All-Defensive First Team in the 2015/16 season. Allen sported 1.6 steals per game, .4 blocks per game, and a defensive win share of 2.9 this past season and only made the All-Defensive Second Team. This is a trend that I found for every guard that took Avery’s place on both the first and second All-Defensive teams such as Patrick Beverly and Danny Green. Avery’s slight decline may have something to do with the fact that he also missed 27 total games due to injuries that nagged him for the better part of the entire season and playoffs.
Another important factor, which was outside of Bradley’s control, was who voted for the players that made each defensive team. For example, as great a player as Bradley’s teammate Isaiah Thomas is, he received a vote for an All-Defensive team. Thomas averaged 1.0 steal, .1 blocks, and had a defensive win share of 1.6. Thomas is also not known for his defensive prowess which is largely due to his lack of size and even he was surprised to get a vote for an All-Defensive team. Additionally, Chris Broussard said on FS1’s “Speak for Yourself” that he didn’t vote for Bradley to be an All-Defensive player because the Celtics gave up 70 points to Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker in Boston this year. The biggest problem with that analysis is that Bradley did NOT, I repeat DID NOT, play in that game.
However, perhaps the most important reason Bradley was left off the All- Defensive team was because he focused on becoming more of a two-way guard in the NBA. Bradley had career highs in both points (16.3 per game) and assists (2.2 per game) and he also put in extra work to improve on his rebounding and was second on the team with 6.1 total rebounds per game. At the end of all of this controversy, the fan side of me wishes Bradley had received the respect he deserves and had been officially regarded as one of the elite defenders of the league. However, I find consolation in the fact that Avery became a better basketball player as a whole this season and, in my eyes, has become as good a two- way player as there is in the NBA, even if it means he doesn’t get as much recognition for it.