A Way Too In Depth Season Preview: Avery Bradley

About Last Year

Avery Bradley mostly had a career year last year, putting up 16.3 points, 2.2 assists, 6.1 rebounds, and 1.2 steals and doing all of that efficiently, by shooting 39 percent from deep on five attempts per game for a true shooting of 55 percent. He also was a substantial contributor in the playoffs putting up solid numbers for the Celtics. Even though he was/is a role player, he is so good as a role player that he was a key piece on an excellent Celtics team last year.

Where He Stands Now

Bradley is in the last year of a four-year, $32 million contract and will make just under $9 million this coming season. He is currently 26 but will turn 27 early in the season. Bradley is slotted in as the starting shooting guard, and there does not figure to be any real competition for the spot. The Pistons acquired him this offseason from the Celtics, the team that he had previously played his entire career for.

Offensively

Bradley is sized more like a point or combo guard, but his offensive game very closely resembles a reasonably classic two guard. He doesn't handle the ball all that much and isn't all that effective when he does. He can obviously do some basic ball handling things like the occasional basic pick and roll, but he was rarely asked to create much in Boston. He is outstanding as a spot up shooter and doing the Kyle Korver thing, running off of screens until he gets open.

He has become a reliable shooter from deep over the past few years, although he is not exactly a sniper. He shot an excellent 39 percent from three last year, but his lines over the last four years are 40 percent, 35 percent, 36 percent, and then the 39 percent last year. It is likely that he is going to shoot worse from deep than he did last year, but he is also doubtful to experience the terrible shooting that multiple Pistons players have experienced over the last couple of years, it is safe to assume Bradley will stay above 35 percent from deep.

One thing to watch for with Bradley this year is how the Pistons use him. They have talked a lot about how they like his ability as a secondary ball handler and that they feel he is an improvement over Kentavious Caldwell-Pope in that regard, but the numbers don't bear that out. On the one hand, he could end up being capable of doing more than he was asked to in Boston in the pass-happy offense of Brad Stevens, but it is also likely that he is perhaps not quite as capable a ball handler as they hope. It would be okay since he is so effective off the ball, but it will still be interesting to see how they try and use him.

Defensively

Avery Bradley is a freaking monster on the defensive end of the floor, and it is wise to remind Pistons fans not to take that kind of thing for granted as the Pistons lost KCP but managed to still somehow make an improvement on that end of the floor with Bradley.

He is the same sort of defensive player that KCP is, he is tenacious on the ball and fully capable of guarding elite ball handlers. The Pistons will likely continue to slot Jackson onto less threatening wings (which his size allows them to do) and let Bradley take most of the elite point guards. Bradley does have the same primary weakness as KCP in that he can struggle with bigger wings. Bradley is shorter than KCP is by three inches, but he is also a bit stronger and stubborn, so it evens out. Regardless, as much as he can dominate some ball handlers, he is going to be a bit more vulnerable when pitted against big physical scorers like DeMar DeRozan.

The place where Bradley sets himself above KCP is that he is a bit more active and focused off the ball. KCP could occasionally have bouts of poor focus and also had an unfortunate tendency to get killed by screens, that is mostly still a result of youth on KCP's part, but Bradley is a more mature player and knows how to avoid screens and can keep up off the ball consistently. Simply put, Bradley is going to avoid the occasional breakdown that KCP would experience.

Intangibles

You cannot find anyone who will say a bad word about Bradley as a person. Every account of him is that he is an absolute workhorse who competes in practice and training and a great guy off the court. His almost comical toughness on the court also is undoubtedly something that helps to solidify the respect of his peers. Bradley is not going to be a problem off the court and is going to be an asset in that department.

Biggest Question Heading Into Next Year?

Can he avoid the injury bug? Bradley has not had injury problems of the "miss the whole season" variety, but his physical, high effort style of play has resulted in him having a tendency to get beat up and miss games here and there. Since he was made a regular player in his second year, he has averaged 63 games played per season, with just 55 last year. The Pistons have some guys who can play behind him, and Bradley's regular injuries are good news for people hoping to see Luke Kennard get playing time this year, but if he misses too much time, the Pistons could get into real trouble. Stay on the court.

Best Case Scenario

He replicates his outside shooting and rebounding from last year while showing that he has more ball handling in him than he showed in Boston. He averages somewhere in the high teens for points while still being an elite defender who eats point guards' souls in his free time. He stays healthy and makes the All-Star team as a key piece of a resurgent Pistons team and is retained after the season as a critical piece going forward.

Worst Case Scenario

He isn't a ball handler but the Pistons try to make him one, and it quickly becomes apparent that he greatly benefited from playing in Brad Stevens pass-happy offense. He suffers multiple injuries and only plays in 40 some games, and struggles to find an offensive rhythm when he is on the floor, the Pistons struggle all year and end up not retaining him after the season.

Wink Knowingly At Your Friends If

- He envelops opposing point guards every night.

- He shows some real playmaking chops and will fit in very well as a secondary ball handler.

- Jackson shows real chemistry with him, and they form a great yin and yang of ball dominant inside scoring and off-ball brilliance.

Run For The Hills If

- There are reports of him being beaten up before the season even starts.

- He is clanging shots and looking confused as to why people don't seem to want to pass the ball very much in Detroit.

- The Pistons try to make him a player that he isn't able to be.

Opportunities For Me To Look Stupid

- Bradley thrives even more as the primary recipient of passes in the spread pick and roll attack.

- He continues his defensive dominance.

- Everyone in Detroit freaking loves him from day one.

- He gets legit all-star talk.

What do you think? Can he succeed outside of Boston's offense? Can he expand his game a bit?


Like what you've read? Share it with your friends on