Thunder Journal: Meet Tony Bradley
The trade deadline was hyped to be the most exciting day of the 2020-2021 season for Thunder fans.
Never mind that was an impossible ask in the first place considering Lu Dort sent Greg Popovich back to San Antonio holding an L after hitting a game winning 3 just a month ago. Nevertheless, leading up to the Thursday at 2pm finish line, we’d heard trade rumors and buzz of half the Thunder roster including George Hill, Al Horford, Mike Muscala, Kenrich Williams and somehow… Justin Jackson? Would a promising young core member such as Darius Bazley be included as a sweetener in a big package? Or dare we even speak it, Lu Dort??
Just as they have all season, the Thunder subverted expectations by ending the day with a more talented roster than anticipated. Ultimately, Horford’s contract was too difficult to move, there wasn’t a Moose market because other GMs are obviously dummies and Sam Presti realized no number of 2027 second round picks is worth giving up Kenny Hustle.
OKC’s lone trade made was George Hill for two second rounders, Austin Rivers and Tom Brady. Oh sorry, that’s Tony Bradley.
The deal was so underwhelming to some Thunder fans that many got more excited with their Shams notification that OKC waived Meyers Leonard to make the trade legal than with the original Woj trade news itself. Visions of protected first round picks and promising Thybulles danced in Loud City heads, but given that Evan Fournier was traded for two second round picks and Victor Oladipo was picked up in the $5 movie bin while Pat Riley was scrounging for a copy of a 2006 movie starring Colin Farrell and Jamie Foxx, the return for Hill is solid.
Don’t deep dive worry into Rivers, who will either be floated to the buyout market or swimmingly show Shai how to command a tank. And while more draft picks are always welcome assets, the 76ers’ 2025 and 2026 second rounders are both far away and likely to be very late selections.
The most positive piece here is the player most knew nothing about until Oklahoma took to Google en masse. So to assist you in understanding why the Thunder pressed the accept button on Daryl Morey’s trade offer when it came across their Yahoo! fantasy app, I’ve rounded up everything you’ll ever need to know about OKC’s new backup or third string or fourth string or–who knows?–starting center.
Daily Thunder readers, meet Tony Bradley.
Name: Tony Lee Bradley Jr.
Age: 23 (January 8, 1998)
Weight: 260 pounds
Wingspan: 7′ 5″
Draft: #28 overall pick in 2017
College: North Carolina
Hometown: Bartow, Florida (also home of NFL Hall of Famer Ray Lewis and NBA Hall of Famer Tracy McGrady)
2020-21 Stats: 5.5 points and 5.2 rebounds on 68% shooting in 14.4 minutes per game.
- Won the 2017 NCAA national championship as a member of the Tar Heels along with current Thunder player Justin Jackson.
- According to Bradley, Utah traded with Los Angeles to draft Bradley before San Antonio could swipe him with the #29 pick: “What the Jazz were telling me is they traded with the Lakers to get me because they knew the Spurs were going to get me.”
- Drafted one spot after Kyle Kuzma, one spot before Derrick White and two spots before Josh Hart. With zero research, I’m going to make the irresponsibly ignorant claim that’s the greatest 27-28-29-30 draft day foursome of all time. Not so fun fact: the Thunder selected Terrance Ferguson #21 overall that year.
- His father, Tony Sr., played basketball at Florida A&M.
- Taught his father, now a pastor in Florida, how to use Facebook Live so that he could give sermons online during COVID lockdown.
- Named Florida Mr. Basketball and Gatorade Player of the Year his senior year in high school.
- Five-star recruit and ranked 17th in the ESPN 100 for the Class of 2016.
- Hosted a “Quarantine Cookbook” YouTube show while with the Jazz during COVID quarantine. Much in the vein of Serge Ibaka’s cooking show but without the bull wiener pepperoni.
What does the no-sugar-coating Philly media thinks of the newest Thunder player?
Andrew Unterberger, well known Philadelphia 76ers podcaster and writer, said this when Daily Thunder asked for his insider info on Bradley:
“So aside from being a non-shooter, Tony Bradley is pretty ideal as a backup center. Very good at being in the right spot at the right time on both ends. Not especially dominant in any one area on either end, but gets a lot of easy dump-offs and putbacks. Doesn’t get totally blown by on guard drives or outmuscled on post-ups, generally makes the right play and won’t kill you in any important respect. Might go 8-8 on a good night or be a relative non-factor on another, but he won’t cost you any games due to dumb mistakes or a bad matchup. If he adds a jumper — and he’s at least expressed ambitions to be stretchier, though we barely saw any of it in Philly — I could see starter upside, though it’s unlikely he’ll ever be a core piece on a good team.”
And finally, if you don’t believe Sam Presti or the 76ers media, how about a current MVP frontrunner?
On March 11th, an injured Joel Embiid tweeted after watching Bradley start in his place: “That’s it!!! I’ve seen enough. Build around Tony Bradley @sixers”.
Exactly two weeks later, Embiid tweeted: “Y’all better do it… He’s the TRUTH!!!!! @okcthunder”.
If you can’t trust Mr. Trust The Process as OKC starts trusting their own process, then I can’t process who else to trust that Bradley won’t be a bust.