For those wondering what Matt Bradley’s pro basketball potential might be, analyst Casey Jacobsen weighed in on the topic during the FS1 broadcast of Cal’s game at Arizona State on Thursday night.
And the former Stanford player believes there could be a place for Bradley in the NBA.
“I think Matt Bradley will have a chance at the next level. I’m not saying he’s going to be drafted first round or anything. He can be a 3-and-D type of guy,” Jacobsen said, referring to a player who can shoot the 3-pointer and contribute on defense. “It wouldn’t surprise me at all to find Matt Bradley on an NBA roster at some point.”
A junior at Cal, Bradley scored 26 points in the Bears' 72-68 loss to the Sun Devils. But he not projected to be drafted in either 2021 or ’22. according to the website NBADraft.net.
Jacobsen was a star at Stanford under coach Mike Montgomery. He averaged 18.1 points over three collegiate seasons, earning first-team AP All-America honors as a sophomore in 2000-01. He scored 49 points in a game against Arizona State.
A 6-foot-6 shooting guard, Jacobsen was chosen by the Phoenix Suns with the 22nd pick of the 2002 NBA. He played four seasons in the NBA, then nine years of international basketball, most of it in Germany.
That’s where he met P.J. Tucker, his teammate in 2011-12 with Brose Baskets. They played 10 games together in the EuroLeague, with Jacobsen averaging 9.1 points and Tucker contributing 8.9 points and 6.3 rebounds.
Jacobsen looks at Bradley, who is 6-foot-4, 220 pounds, and sees P.J. Tucker, who is 6-5, 245 pounds now at 35, but played at 225 when he was a college player at Texas.
“What makes these guys so similar? They both have that linebacker frame and they’re super-high IQ, really smart basketball players,” Jacobsen said.
Tucker was drafted by the Toronto Raptors in the second round in 2006 but played just 17 games before being waived. He then went to Europe, playing five seasons in Israel, Ukraine, Greece and Germany.
Jacobsen pointed out that Tucker attempted just four 3-point shots in three seasons at Texas. But after developing more breadth to his game, Tucker began his NBA career in earnest at the age of 27.
He has played the past nine seasons in the league, the past three as a full-time starter with the Houston Rockets. He has made more than 700 3-point baskets in the NBA — and more than $42 million.
“He has developed into the prototypical 3-and-D. He’s one of the best role players in the NBA,” Jacobsen said of Tucker.
“The one difference right now is P.J. is a much more advanced defender. P.J. Tucker guards 4’s and occasional 5 men in the NBA. I don’t see that for Matt Bradley,” Jacobsen said. “But their games are super similar.”
Bradley already has the 3-point shooting range that Tucker didn’t acquire until later. In two-plays seasons with the Bears, Bradley has made 134 shots from beyond the arc, converting 39.9 percent of his career attempts.
In order to follow the career path Jacobsen envisions Bradley will need to add the defensive component.
P.J. Tucker showed through perseverance that a talented player can always broaden his game and find a niche.
Cover photo of P.J. Tucker by Michael Wyke, USA Today
Follow Jeff Faraudo of Cal Sports Report on Twitter: @jefffaraudo