Avery Bradley eager to show his stuff
Putting on a Celtics jersey for the first time Tuesday felt good to Avery Bradley. Putting on basketball sneakers for the first time in a while felt even better.
Bradley, Boston's first-round pick (19th overall) in the 2010 NBA draft, donned the full Boston uniform for the league's rookie photo shoot Tuesday at the MSG Training Facility in Tarrytown, N.Y.[+] EnlargeSteve Freeman/NBAE/Getty ImagesCeltics rookie Avery Bradley is expected to be a backup to point guard Rajon Rondo.
Bradley underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left ankle July 2, the same day he inked his rookie deal with the Celtics, and has been recovering ever since with eyes toward being in full health when Boston's training camp opens late next month.
"It's the first time I've put on basketball shoes in a while," Bradley told ESPN.com during a break in the action Tuesday. "But it's the first time I've put on the jersey, and it feels good to have 'Boston' and my name on the back. It's cool."
Clad in a No. 0 road jersey, Bradley even engaged in some light shooting with fellow rookies, including teammate Luke Harangody, during the event. He wasn't wearing an ankle brace, but also wasn't pushing off fully as he recovers from a scope that was necessary after he sprained the ankle working out for the Oklahoma City Thunder in mid-June.
While Harangody and other roster hopefuls trekked to Orlando to participate in the 2010 AirTran Summer League in early July, Bradley went under the knife to fix the biggest injury of his basketball career.
"It's really tough," he said. "You kind of feel like you're behind. So I try to do as much as I can -- lift weights -- so I can at least be out there with other people. I'm still in shape. But it's definitely tough not being able to play and show your coaches and teammates what you got."
Bradley has been in Boston since the day after the draft and will finally get to show his teammates and coaches what he's capable of later this month.
"We're hoping two weeks [or] a week and a half, I should be back," said Bradley. "I can run and do everything now, but I need to just let injuries like this heal and just take their time. So that's what we're doing now. We're hoping a week and a half I'll be back."
A 6-foot-2 guard, Bradley averaged 11.6 points, 2.1 assists and 1.3 steals per game last season at the University of Texas and was named to the Big 12 All-Freshman team. He noted last month that he hasn't been informed what his exact role with the Celtics will be this season, but he's eager to help a veteran-laden team in any way possible.
Boston initially pegged Bradley as a potential backup to point guard Rajon Rondo, and his NBA-ready defense may help him earn immediate court time despite being just 19 years old.
"I like his speed," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said on draft night. "He has unbelievable speed. He has a good in-between game. He can make the spot-up jump shots. He's an NBA defender right now. He can play point guard defense on anybody in the league and that's huge for us.
"But he has to learn the position. He has to learn how to be a point guard. So with Rondo in front of him, he'll be a good teacher."
Chris Forsberg is the Celtics reporter for ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter.
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