Bradley taking similar career path as Magic's Afflalo

Bradley taking similar career path as Magic's Afflalo
February 2, 2014, 9:00 am
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BOSTON — Arron Afflalo recalls fondly a time when he could go a few games and take a few shots from the field and not a single eyebrow was raised.

That's how it is when you come into the NBA and your defense is ahead of your offense.

But as important as being an elite defender may be, being an all-around talent that can produce at both ends of the floor, is the goal.

Afflalo, in his seventh NBA season, has made that transition.

And here in Boston, we're seeing a similar evolution in the play of Avery Bradley.

Like most players, the goal early on is to find a way to get on the court.

Afflalo, who is the Orlando Magic's top scorer this season, said he didn't really have much of a choice but to stand out defensively after the Detroit Pistons selected him in the first round of the 2007 draft with the 27th overall pick.

"Scoring wasn't going to be my way on to the court," Afflalo told CSNNE.com. "That's just part of my career path."

Being a veteran, he sees similarities in the way Bradley's game is changing.

"It's all about opportunity, because in this league, it's a league full of specialists especially from a coach's eye or management's eye," said Afflalo, who is averaging 20 points per game this season and has increased his scoring average every year he has been in the NBA. "They want to know what they're getting night-in and night-out. So when you start to change and try to define who you are, it can ruffle some feathers sometimes."

That has not been an issue for Bradley, in part because the roster upheaval that has engulfed the Celtics since the end of last season which afforded Bradley an opportunity to establish himself as a viable scoring threat with little competition for shots.

Bradley credits the work he has put into becoming a better, more all-around player, and his teammates.

"My teammates have been able to get me the ball in my spots and me being able to knock down shots ... really I want to do whatever I can do to help this team win games," Bradley said. "If that's me making shots, I'm willing to do whatever it takes."

Afflalo said growing into that role of being a relied-upon scorer brings about it a different kind of pressure that most young players will struggle with.

"It's tough," Afflalo said. "But it's what you want as an NBA player. You want your teammates to look to you, to be that guy."

But he has seen enough of Bradley in the past to sense that it's not going to be a major issue for him.

"He's a really, really good defender and now he's knocking down a lot of shots," Afflalo said. "He knows what he can and cannot do out there, and he sticks to what he knows works. He's a good player. I think he'll be fine."