You already know that Avery Bradley isn’t afraid of anyone. This despite regularly having to defend the league’s best perimeter players. He relishes the opportunity to go head-to-head against the speediest guards on the planet, and because of that, he isn’t at all shy about touting himself as one of the very best defenders in the NBA.
After making first-team All-Defense last season, Bradley has his sights set on a loftier goal next year. Via Chris Fosberg of ESPN.com:
“If we’re playing well this year, I’ll give myself a chance [to compete for the Defensive Player of the Year award] because, to be honest, I feel like I should always be in that conversation,” said Bradley. “I think I’ve [been left off the] defensive team because of our [lack of] success in the past. We weren’t winning as many games and I’m not going to name some players, but when I was looking at the list I’m like, ‘That person got more votes?’ It’s just because they had a better year, they played longer, they were on TV more — all those things help you out. This year, I feel like the amount of TV games and how we should be playing this year should be able to help me be in that conversation.”
It’s a pretty good bet that the Celtics will play well this year, given their acquisition of Al Horford in the offseason and his addition to a roster that was already on the precipice of making noise in the Eastern Conference playoffs. But bringing home that hardware won’t be an easy task for Bradley. Not only will he be competing against back-to-back winner Kawhi Leonard; he’ll also have to beat out defensive stalwarts like Draymond Green and Hassan Whiteside, who finished second and third, respectively, in the voting last season.