Shawn Bradley was one of the tallest to ever play in the National Basketball Association. At 7-6 he was an outstanding shot blocker, who also had a soft touch on his shot too.
It was a controversial move by Philadelphia to draft Bradley at pick number 2 in the 1993 NBA draft.
He had only played one year of college basketball, at Brigham Young, and while tall he didn’t have a lot of strength. He did block 5 shots a game in college, with a game of 14 blocks against Eastern Kentucky.
The 76ers could have drafted Anfernee Hardaway or Jamal Mashburn but they needed size and in a draft without many great prospects for the center position, Scott Haskin and Acie Earl were first round picks, they went with Bradley.
Bradley’s rookie year was about turnovers, fouls and a low shooting percentage from the field. He did make the NBA All-Rookie Second Team, as he blocked 3 shots per game.
The 76ers tried to add bulk to Bradley but after just over two seasons they decided to move him on. They didn’t want Bradley, the Nets were looking to move out Coleman, it was a trade that both teams were happy to make.
Bradley, Greg Graham and Tim Perry were sent to the New Jersey Nets and Derrick Coleman, Rex Walters, and Sean Higgins became 76ers. It was a fresh start for Bradley and while he did get into double figures for scoring every season he wasn’t what the Nets wanted to build around. The Nets were looking to send Bradley to a new team and they found Dallas who was looking to trade everyone they had.
Shawn Bradley was a large part of one of the biggest trades in the NBA. Bradley went to Dallas along with forward Ed O’Bannon and guards Robert Pack and Khalid Reeves. The Mavericks were busy in 1997 clearing out their roster and sent point guard Sam Cassell, forwards Chris Gatling, Jim Jackson and George McCloud and center Eric Montross to the Nets. That was also around the time that Kidd and Mashburn were traded away by Dallas.
Bradley would spend the majority of his career with Dallas. He gave them the expected shot blocking and also improved his offensive efficiency. While his rookie year numbers were 41% from the field and 61% from the foul line, with Dallas his usual numbers were around 49% for field goal percentage and close to 90% on free throws.
For the 2002 NBA season Bradley shot 92.2% on free throws, a great number for a center. His field goal percentage in 2003 was 53.6%.
As Dallas became a better team, they could also use different lineups to get the best from Bradley. With Dirk Nowitzki taking on the scoring load, it allowed Bradley to concentrate on defense. Bradley wasn’t double-teamed as Dallas had a bunch of scorers on the floor with him.
Dallas also experimented at times, including using a front line of Bradley, Raef LaFrentz and Nowitzki. That would have been one of the tallest front lines ever used, with the 7-6 Bradley at center along with 6-11 LaFrentz at power forward and 7-0 Nowitzki at small forward.
His high for blocks in a game was 13. Shawn Bradley also led the NBA in blocks in 1997, his blocks per game average then was 3.4.