Tony Bradley gives the Philadelphia 76ers a young center with upside.
Sure, his offensive bag of tricks was incredibly limited, and at 26-years-old, he was already one of the oldest rookies in the NBA, but when Pelle stepped foot on the court, he always seemed to bring a level of excitement that Al Horford and Kyle O’Quinn couldn’t provide. He was a one-man block party, and as a card-carrying member of the #blockparty, I’m going to miss watching the Blue Coats legend fly up and down the court like Cinnamon Jacks Cereal’s mascot, The CinnaMon.
But if you know Daryl Morey, you know he wasn’t going to leave his new team high and dry with only Dwight Howard to back up Joel Embiid. The Processed One simply can’t be counted on to play a full 82 game slate, and even at his best, a soon-to-be 35-year-old Howard can’t be counted on to play a full 48 minutes by himself.
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After scouring the league in the 2020 NBA Draft’s postmortem, Morey was actually able to land a pretty intriguing two-way center to fill out the Sixers’ depth chart and provide some much needed minutes in Embiid-less games: Tony Bradley.
Measuring in at 6-foot-10, 248 pounds, Bradley played a single season at UNC in 2016-2017 and parlayed his 7.1 points and 5.1 rebounds in 14.8 minutes of action a night stat line into being the 28th overall selection in the 2017 NBA Draft.
That’s right, Bradley was drafted in the first round by the Utah Jazz (via the Los Angeles Lakers) without having started a single game during his 38 game tenure in Chapel Hill.
Though he mostly played in the G-League during his first two seasons with the Jazz, Bradley appeared in 58 games with three starts in 2019-20 and was able to average 4.9 points and 4.6 rebounds while soaking up 11.4-ish minutes a night behind Rudy Gobert. In the four games where he recorded more than 20 minutes of action, Bradley averaged 10.75 points and 10.25 rebounds a night, showcasing an ability to hold up pretty well in an expanded role.
For what it’s worth, Bradley also knocked down all three of his attempts from beyond the arc in 2019-20, which isn’t all that impressive but at least showcases the basic competency of being able to physically shoot the ball outside of the paint.
Is this the sort of game-changing move that significantly affects the Sixers’ positioning in the Eastern Conference one way or another? No, not really, but Bradley is a good rim protector, a solid screener, and even as a fourth-year pro is a whopping five(!) years younger than Pelle with 46 more games of experience.
Still not convinced? Maybe these highlights from Bradley’s 15 points/three blocks game versus the Spurs courtesy of the man himself, Daryl Morey, will convince you.
I’ve gotta admit, having a President of Basketball Operations who shares fan-made highlight reels from Youtube on Twitter is a surreal experience.
Though it’s a tad unusual to see a rebuilding team like the Pistons land a player like Bradley only to trade him once more a week or so later, when you consider the sheer volume of centers Detroit accrued in both the draft and free agency, it’s clear someone was going to be expendable. Even if Pistons’ GM Troy Weaver believes players like Isaiah Stewart, Mason Plumlee, and, um, Jahlil Okafor doesn’t mean Bradey can’t play quality minutes for the 76ers if his number gets called.
When news broke that the Philadelphia 76ers were trading their first-round pick in the 2018 NBA Draft – a player they traded hometown hero Mikal Bridges to acquire – for a rotational, third center, it rubbed many a fan in the Delaware Valley the wrong way. But when you consider that the Detroit Pistons will probably waive Zhaire Smith a few days later – an outcome that probably would have happened in Philly too if he wasn’t packaged in another trade – it’s pretty impressive that Daryl Morey was actually able to turn nothing into something. And hey, maybe Bradley can start a #blockparty of his own.