A few weeks ago, two former Tar Heels were drafted in the first round of the NBA Draft. This weekend the NBA Summer League kicked off, and Monday night was the night that 28th overall pick Tony Bradley saw the court for the first time with the Utah Jazz.
After deciding to stay in the NBA Draft, there were a lot of questions about whether or not Bradley was ready for the NBA. While the summer league is mainly a rookie / G-League showcase (with a couple NBA veterans sprinkled in), it gives everyone a good chance to see what Bradley’s game brings to the Association. So how did he perform in his first professional basketball game?
The Utah Jazz defeated the San Antonio Spurs, 87-74, in a victory led by big nights from Dante Exum and former Louisville player Donovan Mitchell. Tony Bradley finished the night with eight points, five rebounds, and one block. He shot 50% from the field, and all five of his rebounds were on the defensive side of the ball.
One of the questions many may have had about Tony Bradley is about his stamina, being that he spent his year at UNC coming off the bench for Kennedy Meeks and Isaiah Hicks. The Utah Jazz made him the starting center for the game, so he saw a good amount of playing time in the win over the Spurs.
Bradley played until the last 3-4 minutes of each quarter in the game, with the exception of the fourth quarter when he came off of the bench around the 7:30 mark. He never looked like he was laboring on the floor at any point, and was consistently active on both sides of the ball for most of the game. It will be interesting to see if he starts to get winded near the end of the summer league, but as it stands now it looks like Bradley is physically capable of playing significant minutes if need be in the NBA.
Another question about Bradley’s NBA game was about his claims to be able to play as a stretch four or a stretch five. The very quick and easy answer to whether or not this is true based on this game is: we still don’t know. With the exception of a 15-foot jumper he took late in the fourth quarter (and missed), Tony Bradley spent the night in the post, and played a game very similar to what he played at UNC. The only time that he was out on the perimeter was when he was guarding his man on defense, or when he was setting a pick on offense (his pick-and-roll game looked pretty good, by the way).
There are still a lot of summer league games left, so there is no telling if the Utah Jazz will actually try to use Bradley the way he has said he could be used. The makeup of the summer league team looks as though he is down in the post by design, but there isn’t anything saying that they won’t attempt to try to get him looks on the perimeter either. Time will tell if we will finally get to see the full extent of Bradley’s offensive abilities.
As mentioned earlier, the Utah Jazz version of Tony Bradley looked a lot like the UNC version of Tony Bradley, and it wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. While he definitely had some cringe-worthy turnovers and got pushed around a little in the paint, he had a solid summer league debut. He was very active down-low, came down with some impressive defensive rebounds, and also made two tough shots that he got fouled on. Bradley also had a huge block against Shayne Whittington with 6:30 left in the 3rd quarter, showing off what he is able to do on the defensive side of the ball.
Overall, Tony Bradley had a solid night. It will definitely be interesting to see what he does going forward as he attempts to earn significant playing time with the Jazz. The Utah Jazz play again on July 5th at 7pm ET against the Philadelphia 76ers on NBA TV.