Celtics Quesiton of the Day: Will Bradley get his job back when healthy?

Celtics Quesiton of the Day: Will Bradley get his job back when healthy?
September 11, 2012, 1:33 pm
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When the Boston Celtics made the decision last season to have Avery Bradley in the starting lineup ahead of Ray Allen, the logic behind the move was clear.

Bradley brought a defensive presence that Allen and all his Hall of Fame-worthy credentials simply could not deliver.

You throw in Bradley's ever-improving jumper, which included a 3-point shot from the corner, pair him up with All-Star guard Rajon Rondo, and the Celtics had their backcourt of the future.

But two developments have put that plan on hold for a bit.

There's the shoulder surgeries Bradley underwent that are expected to keep him out of action most of training camp and potentially into the early portion of the C's schedule. And even more important, Boston's ability to add Courtney Lee via sign-and-trade with Houston this summer.

Without Bradley early on in the season, Lee is expected to get the starting job at shooting guard.

But will he keep it when Bradley returns?

Not likely.

While Lee is a solid defender, he doesn't have the defensive game-changing ability that Bradley showcased when healthy last season.

Who can forget the defensive job he did on Orlando's Jameer Nelson last season, or that ridiculous block he had of an attempted floater by Miami's Dwyane Wade?

Lee is no slouch defensively, but he has yet to prove he can turn the tide of his game primarily with his defense.

And then there's the fact that Bradley has earned the right to, at the very least, pick up where he left off prior to the shoulder injuries.

During Rondo's strong play in the regular season, the C's would often have Bradley defend the opposing team's top guard. That took some of the defensive workload off Rondo's shoulders, which in turn helped him and the C's offensively.

Of course any decision to take Lee out of the starting lineup and put Bradley back in will be impacted by the team's success -- or lack of success -- before Bradley's return.

Regardless, it's hard to imagine that he won't get every opportunity to resume his role as a starter when you consider how well he fit in with that first unit and how, on many nights, the C's defense fed off of his energy to start games.

Arguably the biggest downside to Bradley being hurt to start the season is that it robs him from getting on the floor and getting to play with his new teammates. If he's on with the second unit, Chris Wilcox would be the only player with whom he is familiar who is expected to be in the regular playing rotation off the bench.

With Lee spending the preseason and early part of the regular playing with all those guys while Bradley recovers, Lee might be better suited than Bradley to make the transition from the first group to the second.

You can't totally rule out Jason Terry being in the mix, although he has proven himself to be very comfortable off the bench and the C's aren't likely to tinker with his role too much.

That leaves Bradley and Lee, two players with two different kinds of games who will each be counted on to contribute this season.