As the Boston Celtics head into the offseason, NESN.com takes a closer look at each player on the roster in an effort to determine who will stick around for next season and who will be playing elsewhere.
Next up: Avery Bradley.
Bradley entered this season with plenty to prove after signing a four-year, $32 million contract last summer.
While it ended up not being the breakout campaign some were hoping for, the fifth-year guard did show several positive signs, particularly in the durability department.
Bradley missed just five games this season (including a rest day in the regular-season finale) after missing 18 or more in each of his first four. The fears of paying $8 million a year to a guy who can’t stay on the court were unfounded, at least through the first season of his new deal.
But games played was the only area in which Bradley showed significant improvement. His defense was as solid as ever, but his offensive stats (13.9 points, 3.1 rebounds, 42.8 percent field-goal shooting, 35.2 percent 3-point shooting) dipped slightly across the board from his 2013-14 totals.
There’s no reason to believe Bradley won’t be back in Boston next season — the team reportedly turned down several offers for him at the trade deadline — and if he is, expanding his offensive repertoire will be a focal point over the coming months.
Bradley shot 57.3 percent on field-goal attempts within 10 feet of the basket this season, but those represented just 21.1 percent of his total shots, according to NBA.com. That unwillingness to drive to the rim resulted in him attempting just 1.3 free throws per game — good for ninth on the team — despite ranking third in field-goal attempts at 13.2 per game.
“We need him to get to the foul line more,” head coach Brad Stevens said way back in November, after Bradley had attempted just 11 foul shots through the Celtics’ first 12 games.
(Free-throw frequency was an issue for the Celtics as whole. Isaiah Thomas ranked 21st in the NBA in foul shots per game, but the next-highest-ranked Celtic was Brandon Bass, all the way down at No. 100.)
So, Bradley still has some work to do. But the Celtics appear more than willing to give him the time to do it.
How do you think the Celtics should proceed with Bradley?
Up next: Jae Crowder
Thumbnail photo via Mark L. Baer/USA TODAY Sports Images