After coming off his seventh season in the NBA, Avery Bradley has gone against his fair share of great players. One of the best defensive guards in the NBA who somehow wasn’t selected on an All-Defensive team, the 26-year-old is counted on to guard the opposing team’s best guard every game. After spending his first seven season with the Celtics and then being traded to the Detroit Pistons this summer, Bradley admitted in a recent Twitter Q&A with his new team that Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving is the toughest player to defend in the NBA.
Kyrie. Not even close. – AB https://t.co/8cEKwtSu6O
— Detroit Pistons (@DetroitPistons) July 13, 2017
Keep in mind, Bradley has had to guard offensive juggernauts such as Steph Curry, John Wall, Russell Westbrook, James Harden, and plenty of others. When Bradley was on the court with them this past season, Curry shot just 27.3 percent from long distance and Wall shot just 33.3 percent from the field.1 Surprisingly, both Westbrook and Harden dominated when Bradley was on the court compared to when he was on the bench. But, even having to go against players like that night in and night out, he still admitted that Irving is the toughest to guard, which says a lot.
The argument can be made for any of those players, but Bradley’s opinion carries the clout of experience. That is quite a compliment for Uncle Drew, especially coming from one of the best defensive guards in the NBA.
When he’s on, Irving is unstoppable. He can hit the three in your face if you stay back, take you off the dribble and get around you, step-back if you’re in his face, pull up in midrange, and even use his hands to put an incredible spin on the ball of the glass if he gets to the rim.
While being guarded by Bradley for much of the time, the point guard had a tremendous series against the Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals this past May. In the five games, he averaged 25.8 points, two rebounds, and 5.4 assists per game while shooting 62.2 percent from the floor and 50 percent from beyond the arc.
Here’s a couple video clips of Bradley trying to guard Irving in the East Finals:
In Game 4, Irving dropped 42 points against Bradley and the Celtics. Following the game, Bradley had nothing but good things to say about the Cavaliers point guard, according to USA TODAY’s AJ Neuharth-Keusch.
“He’s able to shoot the ball. You can’t get into him too much, you can’t back off him. He’s a great finisher. He’s a good player. He’s one of the best point guards in the NBA. You can tell he puts in a lot of work into his game. A lot of respect from myself, my teammates.”
He may not be able to dunk unless it’s an occasional one on a wide-open fastbreak, but Irving is arguably the best below-the-rim finisher in the NBA and it could be argued that he is one of the best to every do it in the history of the game.
Now in the same division, Irving and Bradley will match up four times throughout the regular season.