More like Avery

More like Avery
March 1, 2013, 11:30 am
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On Thursday afternoon at Celtics practice, Paul Pierce made a statement that we’ve all heard before. In fact, it was something that most of us have actually said before. But it’s just more powerful when it comes from Pierce because he’s Paul Pierce and we’re not.  

“In my eyes, (Avery Bradley’s) probably the best on-the-ball defender in the NBA,” Pierce said. “I’d be very surprised if he didn’t make the All-Defensive Team.”

Of course, whether or not Bradley makes the team is pretty much irrelevant. If he doesn’t make it this year, then he’ll make it next year. And once he makes it next year, he’ll make it every consecutive year until he can no longer walk. That’s just the way it goes.

For now, the official “All-Defensive” title is far less important than the undeniable truth:

That Avery Bradley is an All-NBA defender.

If he’s not the best, he’s without question one of the best. He’s one of the few players in the league who can dominate a game without touching the ball. He’s a guy who every coach would die to have on his team; who every coach needs in order to reach the top. He’s a guy who you can throw out there against Steph Curry — who’s averaging 46 points in his last two games, and has hit 18 of his last 23 three-pointers — and somehow still feel good about your chances.

Best of all?

His contract.

When we glance at the big picture of this Celtics team, and the easiest way* for them to climb back into the ranks of “contender” we’re going look at guys and situations like Avery Bradley. (*Aside from LeBron retiring to play baseball and/or Kevin Durant losing a leg in a shark attack.)

AKA, smart draft picks. AKA, (no Bradley pun intended) steals.

Looking back through recent Celtics draft history, Delonte West was a steal. Tony Allen was a steal. Al Jefferson, Ryan Gomes, Glen Davis and Leon Powe were steals.

Not one of them was a lottery pick, but each one played a major role in either helping Boston acquire the right talent or putting them over the top once that talent was here.

And now, Avery Bradley is one of those guys. He’s an All-NBA defender, but more importantly, he’s an All-NBA defender who’s under contract for the next three years, and at a bargain basement price.

He’ll make $1.63M this year. He’ll make $2.52M next year. He’ll make $3.58M the year after that. In other words, the Celtics will spend less money on Avery Bradley these next three seasons than they’ll spend on Jeff Green in this year alone.

On one hand, that can leave you disgruntled and angry over all the cash that’s tied up in Green, but for now, let’s just take a second and appreciate how little is tied up in Avery, and how much value he promises to being.

And let's hope there are a few more Avery Bradleys coming down the pipe, because that's the best way to get back on top.

Rich can be reached at Follow Rich on Twitter @rich_levine.