Bradley relishes chance to face Crawford

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Bradley relishes chance to face Crawford

BOSTON -- Avery Bradley was happy to play against the Portland Trail Blazers, and it had nothing to do with the Boston Celtics blowout win.

On Friday night Bradley faced off against his friend and mentor, Jamal Crawford. Bradley considers Crawford to be the leader of a tight-knit Seattle-area basketball brotherhood which also includes Nate Robinson, Spencer Hawes, and Terrence Williams, among others.

I feel like hes a leader for all the guys that come out of Seattle now, Bradley told CSNNE.com. Hes been in the league the longest out of all of us and he looks out for all of us. He gives us all advice. I can speak for all of us, Nate, all of us, we all look up to Jamal.

Bradley met Crawford during high school when he was ranked the top player in the country. Crawford had years of NBA experience under his belt at that time and was eager to share it with the teenager. That began a strong bond that continued as Bradley attended the University of Texas and was selected by the Celtics with the 19th pick in the 2010 NBA Draft.

He's such a humble kid, Crawford, an 11-year veteran, told CSNNE.com. He's a guy who wants to continue to get better. I watched him grow and heard about him for so long when he was in high school playing with Abdul Gaddy. All those guys, I just try to show them the right way to do things. We hang around as much as possible in the summer. The thing that makes us special in Seattle is we're a close-knit fraternity of guys who all support each other. When Averys doing something, were all supporting him and vice versa.

Crawford has noticed Bradley playing with more confidence this season, noting a solid performance during the Celtics recent loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder. They didnt win the game but it was a big step for him, I felt, playing against a top-flight point guard like Russell Westbrook, he said.

As Bradleys role off the Celtics bench behind Rajon Rondo increases, he appreciates the advice he has received from one of the leagues top sixth men. Crawford has made a successful career outside of the starting lineup.

Jamal could be a star on any team, but he accepts his role and he goes out there and he plays hard, said Bradley. But at the same time, hes a vet in this league and I feel like he knows the game and hes been through a lot of the things that Im going through or could go through. To see how much better hes got throughout the years -- because everybody knows who Jamal is and everybody knows he can play -- just makes me want to be like him.

Two years into the NBA, Bradleys career has been invaluably impacted by Crawford.

He doesnt know that, but all the young guys, Im telling you, we all look up to him, Bradley said. If you go and ask a young kid, Whos the best player coming out of Seattle? theyre going to say, Jamal Crawford.

O'Connor: Zizic would go top-10 in 2017 draft

O'Connor: Zizic would go top-10 in 2017 draft

It seems the Celtics can throw yet another piece onto their treasure trove of assets. 

The Celtics stashed two of their first-round picks from the 2016 draft overseas and in the process have seen 23rd overall pick Ante Zizic establish himself as a very promising NBA prospect. 

The Croatian center, currently playing in the Turkish League, has boosted his stock with a strong season in what’s expected to be his last before joining the Celtics. Appearing on Toucher and Rich Thursday morning, The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor said that Zizic has improved to the point that he would be a top-10 pick in the 2017 draft. “He looks really good,” O’Connor said. “I liked him last year when I first watched him. I thought, ‘Good energy big man. He’ll have a solid career,’ but then the more you watch him, the more you see. 

“This year, he’s really taken a step forward. All his strengths look better. All the things he was already good at like screening, rebounding and rim-protection, he looks better. But he’s also starting to flash a little bit of a mid-range jumper, and he’s never had bad mechanics, but now that shot’s starting to fall. So maybe he can be more than that energy big man. Maybe he’s a little bit more dynamic than that. 

“If I’m the Celtics, I value him as you’re getting a top-10 pick this yea. I think he’d go around nine or 10 in this draft.”