One of the Lakers’ lesser publicized acquisitions this summer was for veteran guard Avery Bradley. Once known as one of the league’s preeminent perimeter defenders, Bradley has struggled a bit since leaving the Boston Celtics in 2017. Bradley struggled with some injuries as well as simply awkward fits in the two years since but seems poised fora very solid bounceback with the purple and gold this year.
Avery Bradley Making Case to Crack Lakers’ Starting Lineup
Not only has Bradley shown early on that he is capable of being a contributor but he may even be making a legitimate case for the Lakers to play him in the starting lineup. Bradley himself claims that he’s dropped nearly 40 pounds since last year and that this was the first full summer he’s had in a few years that he was able to focus on basketball as opposed to rehabbing an injury.
The extra preparation and conditioning seem to be paying off early as by all accounts, Bradley is an unstoppable force on the defensive end so far.
“It became very clear from coaching against him, I’d say, ‘Don’t dribble the ball. If Avery’s on you, pass the ball.” Vogel told Joey Ramirez, “Give it up, because you’re not going anywhere off the bounce with Avery Bradley on you.’”
At his best, Bradley was a first-team NBA All-Defensive guard and even that may be underselling his talents short. Bradley had long been considered one of the best defensive guards in the league during his time in Boston though his presence was either overshadowed by a trio of superstars or Isaiah Thomas‘ improbable rise to become the King in the Fourth during his last season there in 2016-2017. With a 6’7″ wingspan, great athleticism, and excellent strength, Bradley is capable of giving opposing guards fits and even giving much bigger forwards trouble down low. His defensive versatility was a key weapon for the Celtics and allowed them to often get by hiding weaker defenders (like Thomas) alongside Bradley.
Able to handle the ball and play point, he could be an ideal fit in the starting lineup as James would handle the primary playmaking duties while Bradley could pair up with Danny Green to create a terrifying defensive backcourt. Both Bradley and Green are more than capable of spacing the floor and should be major upgrades in terms of targets for LeBron.
Avery Bradley’s Potential Fit Alongside Laker Teammates
Playing with a number of elite talents and respected veterans, this bunch has the ability to help bring the absolute best out of Avery Bradley. With two former defensive players of the year and a number of All-Defensive players littering the roster, the Lakers have a defensive-minded bunch. What this means for Avery Bradley is that he should be able to take more risks on the defensive end and play more proactive on that end of the ball. He has help from Anthony Davis, JaVale McGee, and Dwight Howard (one of which should be on the court at all times) to clean up anyone that gets by him to the rim and should be able to get better use out of his lightning-quick hands to disrupt ball carriers and force them into turnovers for easy baskets.
On the offensive end, Bradley has steadily improved as a three-point shooter during his time in the NBA and actually hit a respectable 38.4% last season. If he can prove capable of doing that again with the Lakers, he could not only work his way into the starting lineup but prove to be one of the most important pieces as the team eyes a deep playoff run.