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NBA Draft 2017 Prospect Breakdown: Tony Bradley

He is a pure center but there is some surprising skill in his game.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-First Round-North Carolina vs Texas Southern Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

In advance of the 2017 NBA Draft, Peachtree Hoops will be breaking down a wide variety of players that could be available for the Atlanta Hawks at either No. 19 or No. 31. The series will stretch throughout the month of June and today’s post breaks down North Carolina center Tony Bradley.

Tony Bradley went to North Carolina as a clear top 50 recruit and helped the Tar Heels win a national title. Despite the fact that he projects playing exclusively at the center position, he seems to be sliding up a lot of big boards as draft day approaches. His best skill right now is that he just consumes an enormous amount of space on both ends of the floor. With that said, it is not only a reflection of his size (6’9, 245 pounds), he knows how to make the most of his presence.

Offensive Profile

Bradley was not asked to do much offensively last season on a stacked UNC team and he played with one of the best groups of perimeter players in the NCAA. But he did what was asked of him and embraced his role. He demonstrates enough coordination that it is reasonable to project that he could develop a decent mid-range shot which would make his offensive game just versatile enough to play him regularly and not just in match up situations.

He has good hands which can be a difference maker in terms of standing out in this draft class at the position. Bradley moves the ball effectively and is more than willing passer. He consistently makes the smart play. He has a decent back to the basket game but his willingness and ability to operate in the pick and roll will be what drives a lot of his offensive value.

The one-and-done big man is a beast on the offensive glass having averaged 6.9 offensive rebounds per 40 minutes. He has average speed but runs the floor well and consistently moves with purpose. He doesn’t play above the rim but he finishes pretty well.

Defensive Profile

Bradley is not the rim protector that you might expect him to be (1.6 blocks per 40 minutes) but that is partially because he plays with a high IQ and does not chase blocks. He understands the value of altering shots at the rim. He was a pretty foul prone big man especially when considering his below average block rate but that could be addressed in time by just refining some of his defensive footwork.

He plays with more finesse than force but it will be curious to see if that changes as he potentially adds core strength as gets older and works with a professional sports science department. Bradley is a helpful defender in most pick and roll situations but doesn’t always recover effectively after helping with the initial contain. He looks like a young player that just needs more reps as to round out his defensive game.

Fit for the Atlanta Hawks

As discussed at length, the Hawks could be in a position of needed to add 2-3 big men to the 15-man roster depending upon how free agency goes for them. Bradley looks like a competent role player at the position and considering that he is still a teenager there is some reasonable optimism for general improvement to his skills.

He does not look like the classic Hawks prospect but, given his willingness and effectiveness to operate in the pick and roll, I would be surprised if the Hawks don’t have at least some mild interest. Bradley does not have as much upside as some of the centers projected to go in the first 25 picks or so in the draft, but he is significantly more NBA ready than a number of those players.


Personally, I expected to come away largely less than enthused about Bradley as a prospect before I dug in on his evaluation. But the more I saw of him, the more I liked him. He just looks like a player that is going to embrace his role and consistently find ways to help his team. Bradley is never going to be much above average in the skills department but I expect him to grow as a very high IQ player on both ends of the court.