There are few things in life more unpredictable than a Danny Ainge draft pick, but his selection Thursday night of Avery Bradley, a 19-year-old freshman combo guard out of the University of Texas, was as predictable as any.
Even when no one sees it coming, Ainge and the Celtics manage to squeeze big-time value out of any pick at any level. Whether it's Rajon Rondo, Kendrick Perkins, Tony Allen or any number of role players the Celtics have added over the years, they've had plenty of hits and few misses.
Bradley was the guy the Celtics wanted all along, and internally, the team has little doubt that he'll be the next homegrown talent to make an impact in Boston.
"You know, it's funny," head coach Doc Rivers said Thursday night. "Avery Bradley was the first name and the first tape that [Ainge] showed me. He was the guy that he really wanted me to look at. And then when he finished, he said, 'I don't think he's going to be there. I think someone will take him in front of us.' But fortunately, there were a couple of trades made right in front of us, which really helped us."
All the speculation was completely off, as usual. Many clamored for the Celtics to take a big man, filling an urgent need after the injury of Kendrick Perkins and the retirement of Rasheed Wallace. They had options — Florida State's Solomon Alabi, Marshall's Hassan Whiteside and Kentucky's Daniel Orton were all ripe for the picking.
They could have added a big-time scorer, someone like Oklahoma State's James Anderson.
They could have added someone bigger, someone flashier. But in fact, they had their eye on Bradley all along.
"He was the guy that we wanted," Rivers said. "He was the guy that we targeted. We really only had two guys on our board that we really thought we would draft, and if we didn't get those two, we were probably going to move the pick. So it was good that he fell to us."
Bradley gives the Celtics a bench defensive stopper, a guy that can guard anyone at the point guard and perhaps a few smaller guys on the wing. He's a smart and unselfish player on the offensive end, and he's got a solid jump shot in his arsenal if he needs it.
He should fit in right away in Boston, at least in a modest role off the bench.
"I love his speed, I can tell you that," said Rivers. "He has unbelievable speed. He has a good in-between game, and he can make the spot-up jump shots. He's an NBA defender right now. He can play point guard defense on anybody in the league, and that's huge for us."
Bradley will fit in both at the two-guard position, where he played a lot in college, and at the point, where he's still got some developing to do. He'll now learn the run the point at the School of Rajon Rondo.
"He has to learn the position," Rivers said. "He has to learn to be a point guard. But you know, with Rondo in front of him, he's got a good teacher."
One way or another, Bradley will work out in Boston. Rather than simply draft the best player available, the Celtics have gone for the best fit. Not necessarily the best fit by position, or the best fit on the stat sheet. But Bradley brings the right style and the right mentality to Boston. He's team-oriented, defense-first and ready to win.
On Thursday night, the Celtics proved a whole lot of media speculators right. In the years to come, perhaps Avery Bradley will prove the Celtics right, too.