Avery Bradley is one of the NBA’s underappreciated role players and it’s one of the reasons the Los Angeles Lakers were able to sign him in free agency on a two-year, mid-level exception.
The reason Bradley became so underappreciated was due to a frankly abysmal 55 game stretch with the Los Angeles Clippers during the 2018-19 NBA season.
When Bradley with the Boston Celtics, he was a consistent 40% three-point shooter and was known as a premier perimeter defender. In fact, he made the All-NBA Defensive Second Team in 2013 and the All-NBA Defensive First Team in 2016. However, with the Clippers, his shooting and defense plummeted to bottom of the barrel numbers.
As Bradley is just 28-years-old and in the middle of his prime years, he is looking to prove he can still be a difference-maker.
Bradley spoke at 2019 Lakers Media Day about wanting to prove what he’s capable of in this league and to him, that’s being the best perimeter defender in all of basketball.
“This is a whole new opportunity for me to prove myself each and every night. There’s no bigger stage than this,” Bradley said. “Each and every night, every opportunity I get I’m going to try to prove, to show the world I’m the best perimeter defender in the NBA.”
While this sounds like something every NBA player says, it’s something that is legitimately achievable for Bradley. Bradley knows this because he already proved it when he was just 25-years-old. He was voted to the All-NBA Defensive First Team with Draymond Green, DeAndre Jordan, Kawhi Leonard, and Chris Paul.
If Bradley can prove he’s worthy of starting and playing significant minutes, then there’s no reason to think he can’t reassert his dominance on the perimeter.
The Lakers will need him almost nightly to guard opposing point guards like Stephen Curry, Russell Westbrook, Damian Lillard, and Kyrie Irving. And if Bradley can hold his own in those matchups, he will have proved exactly what he’s looking to do.
However, this isn’t what Bradley wants and it’s certainly not what fans and the coaching staff want. As a result, it’ll be up to Bradley to put in that effort and really show that he is who he used to be.