Celtics choose freshman Bradley

Updated: June 25, 2010, 8:33 AM ET
By Peter May | Special to ESPNBoston.com

BOSTON -- The first player Doc Rivers saw on tape when he finally got around to previewing the 2010 NBA draft was a guard from Texas named Avery Bradley.

"This is the guy I like, but I don't think he's going to be there when we pick," Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge told his coach.

[+] EnlargeAvery Bradley
Matthew Emmons/US PresswireIn addition to being able to play NBA defense, Avery Bradley should be a capable backup point guard, according to Celtics coach Doc Rivers.

So, all together now: We never thought he'd be here when it came our turn to pick.

Bradley, a 6-foot-2 guard who spent one season with the Longhorns, was indeed there when the Celtics made their first-round pick at No. 19. Rivers said Bradley is likely to remain a Celtic, despite all the predraft talk that Boston was inclined to deal the pick.

"He was one of two guys we targeted," said Rivers, who did not identify the other player, other than to note that he was still on the board when the Celtics picked. "Had these two been gone, we would have moved the pick."

What does the coach know about his newest player? "Very little," admitted Rivers, who did say that two of his sons, Jeremiah and Austin, had played against Bradley in AAU ball and both came away impressed. But here is what Rivers saw on tape.

"I like his speed," Rivers said. "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 [Rajon] Rondo in front of him, he'll be a good teacher."

Bradley shares at least two traits with Rondo: the ability to defend and the inability to make free throws. He made only 54.5 percent of his freebies.

"I've been the best defender on every team I've played on since the first grade," Bradley said in a conference call. "I would love to be one of the top defenders in the league. I want to get Rookie of the Year -- that's my goal."

Bradley said he is close with former Texas teammate Kevin Durant and likened his game to those of current NBA players Russell Westbrook and Monta Ellis. But he kept returning to his defense, which he said "is the strongest part of my game." He said he hopes to wear No. 0, which is what he wore at Texas.

Bradley said the Celtics were the first team he worked out for, but said he had no indication that Boston would choose him. He got the news while he was dining with his family in a restaurant in downtown Tacoma, his hometown.

"I knew when I worked out there that they were interested," he said. "It's just a great feeling to be a part of an organization like that and to get the chance to learn from some of the older guys on the team."

Still unknown is whether Rivers will coach Bradley, or anyone else, next season. Rivers, who has a year left on his contract, said he will make a decision "very soon" and that he understands the sentiments of his veteran players, who would like him to return.

"I understand where they're coming from," Rivers said, referring to Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. "So we'll see." Rivers said he couldn't ask for better support from ownership and said his relationship with Ainge was one most coaches can only fantasize about.

"Danny is my boss, but he's also one of my best friends. You don't see that very often," Rivers said.

But what would Rivers return to? The Celtics of 2010-11 are still very much a work in progress with only a handful of players under contract. And two of those are iffy; Rasheed Wallace is retiring, according to an ESPN.com report that Rivers basically confirmed. And Kendrick Perkins will be out for a while after he undergoes knee surgery, which had been scheduled for Friday but will be delayed until the swelling subsides in Perkins' right knee.

"We clearly need to get another big," Rivers said.

As for Bradley, he was second in scoring on the Longhorns, averaging 11.6 points a game. He also was second in steals (44 in 34 games) and was a Big-12 honorable mention All-Star. He was your proverbial high school hot shot in Nevada, winning the slam dunk title at the McDonald's All-Star Game and leading his high school team to a 33-0 record. As a high school senior, ESPN named him the national player of the year and the top prospect in the country.

Bradley was the first of two Longhorns taken in the draft, five picks ahead of Damion James.

"They are one of my favorite teams," Bradley said of the Celtics, adding with a chuckle that he rooted for them against the Lakers in the NBA Finals. "I like that they have a lot of teamwork. It feels great to play with guys who love the game as much as I do."

The Celtics said Bradley was scheduled to take a red-eye to Boston, undergo a physical, and, if all goes according to plan, meet the media sometime Friday afternoon or early evening.

In the second round, with the 52nd overall pick, the Celtics selected Notre Dame forward Luke Harangody, who led the Big East in scoring at nearly 22 points a game.

"He was a dominant Big East player for the last four years," Ainge said. "Luke is one of those guys everyone kind of discounts because they have a flaw. But time will tell."

Longtime Celtics reporter Peter May is a contributor to ESPNBoston.com. Material from the Associated Press was used.

Peter May

Celtics reporter, ESPNBoston.com

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