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Celtics, for the last time: Avery Bradley

10.29.13 at 2:06 pm ET

One of the most unpredictable Celtics seasons in recent memory begins Wednesday, and in order to determine the likelihood of each player reaching his full potential, we’ll be examining them individually in this year’s Green Street preview with one form of this question in mind: “When’s the last time ‘€¦ ?” Next up: Avery Bradley.

When’s the last time a player emerged as a defensive standout and then made the offensive leap?

Avery Bradley earned what should be the first of a long line of NBA All-Defensive nods last season, joining Mike Conley Jr. in the Second Team backcourt. Considering he returned midseason from surgery on both shoulders the previous summer, his offense continued to lag behind despite averaging a career-high 9.2 points per game.

Bradley’s 40 percent shooting from 3-point range and nearly five field goal attempts at the rim per 36 minutes during his sophomore season offered glimpses of his offensive potential, but his shooting percentages dipped dramatically in 2012-13 (40.6 FG%, 32.2 3P%). That pit bull defense, though, remained tough as ever.

At this point, Bradley is nearing a point where it’s time to either make the jump to becoming a two-way stud or accept an NBA life as a defensive hound. It’s the fork in the road that — in a best-case scenario — either leads to Bruce Bowen‘s career or Dennis Johnson‘s. So, which one is Avery Bradley?

Really, there’s no precedent for a guard establishing an All-Defensive reputation and later making an impact as a double-digit scorer. Guys like D.J., Maurice Cheeks and Joe Dumars had already proven themselves as valuable offensive weapons by the time they made their first All-Defense teams.

History would tell you Bradley’s on a similar career path to Michael Cooper, who made the first of eight All-Defense teams in his third season, submitted his highest scoring average the next year (11.9) and settled in as a career 8.9 points per game scorer. That’s not such a bad scenario, either, considering Cooper won five rings over 12 seasons and took home the 1987 NBA Defensive Player of the Year honor in his ninth year.

Except these Celtics aren’t those Showtime Lakers. They could use the 15.3 points per 36 minutes on 43.8 percent shooting from 3 that Bradley provided this preseason. All it would take is a precedent-setting performance.

Click on the links below to check out the “When’s the last time ‘€¦ ?” questions for other Celtics.

Kelly Olynyk: When’€™s the last time a middle-of-the-pack draft pick won NBA Rookie of the Year honors?
Gerald Wallace: When’€™s the last time a declining over-30 former All-Star enjoyed a career resurgence?

Read More: Avery Bradley, Boston Celtics, Last Time, NBA
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