Bradley Plays Well In Gobert’s Absence
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – One hour before the Jazz tipped-off against New Orleans, Tony Bradley found out he was going to receive his first NBA start in place of Rudy Gobert.
Even though he was a bit nervous, the 3rd year center scored 14 points and grabbed 9 rebounds as a respectable replacement for the NBA two-time Defensive Player of the Year.
“There were some butterflies there (before the game),” said Bradley after Utah’s 128-120 victory over the Pelicans. “When the game started, the butterflies went away and (I) just played.”
“It’s what you do Ton,” yelled one teammate as Bradley spoke to the media.
With microphone in hand, Gobert asked Bradley how he felt about starting in place of him. Bradley was diplomatic in his answer, saying it was a great memory and a good experience. When another member of the media jokingly asked if he was ready to replace Gobert, Bradley said “No comment.”
Bradley realizes that he still needs to improve a lot before he starts taking more minutes from The Stifle Tower. He acquitted himself nicely on the offensive side of the ball, being in the right place at the right time to receive passes and put the ball in the bucket. Bradley only missed one shot the entire night.
“Shout out to Tony,” said teammate Emmanuel Mudiay. “He had a great game but we all know that’s what he was capable of. You know he’s definitely a big part of this team…Tony really stepped up.”
The former North Carolina Tar Heel recognizes he still needs to work on his defensive deficiencies, and it was evident at times during the game.
Early in the first quarter, he perfectly challenged New Orleans guard Jrue Holiday as Holiday drove to the basket and missed a close shot. He also couldn’t keep up with Pelicans center Jaxson Hayes as Hayes slid past him for a breathtaking dunk off of a pick-and-roll and then picked up his second foul a few moments later defending Hayes.
“I’m just trying to protect the rim to the best of my ability,” remarked Bradley when asked about defending New Orleans quick guards. He said that he was trying to stay vertical and move his feet to prevent easy layups.
Although Bradley will never be confused with Gobert, he did get a bit of revenge on Hayes in the 4th quarter, swatting his shot out of bounds.
“We all know how good he is offensively,” said forward Bojan Bogdanovic. “Defensively he did a great job protecting the paint today… and… offensively he’s he’s capable to get a double double every single game.”
Bradley said his teammates didn’t do anything special to get him involved in the offense. He just went to the proper place and was ready to score when the ball was passed to him. When it came to his successful mental preparation, it all came down to effort.
“All I’m thinking is just play hard, try to rebound and run the floor and defend the best I can.”
It’s not a bad way to start and finish his first career start in the NBA.
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