Avery Bradley
(J Alexander Diaz/Los Angeles Lakers)

Latest Laker: Avery Bradley's Impact on Both Sides of the Ball

by Joey Ramirez
Digital Reporter

Nine years into his NBA career, Avery Bradley has built himself a reputation as somebody ready for any challenge on either side of the court.

While offense may be the setting for most highlights, Bradley prides himself on being a two-way player and calls defense his “main talent.”

Bradley has the credentials to back that up. He’s only three years removed from being named First Team All-Defensive, and his absence on the 2017 team raised eyebrows from some elite scorers.

Taking a look at the tape, the 6-foot-2, 180-pound Bradley boasts length and strength well beyond what would be expected from a player of his frame. Perhaps even more importantly, he has the mind set of somebody who thrives off challenges and is willing to get in the jerseys of the league’s top scoring guards.

“I look at it as something that you just have fun with,” Bradley said. “You circle each game and look at the players (you’re facing) and you take that challenge every single night to go out there and try to shut those guys down.

“That’s what I’m hoping I can bring to this team, because I do know that kind of gives everybody a swagger if you have one guy or two guys on a team that have that mentality every single night.”

In addition to some great defensive footwork, Bradley’s also not one to easily give up on a play. He tries to give his man as little airspace as possible, even if that means having to navigate through multiple screens.

Offensively, the 28-year-old is coming off a challenging year that saw him struggle with the LA Clippers before thriving in Memphis after a late-season trade.

In 49 games as a Clipper, he averaged only 8.2 points and 2.0 assists while shooting 38.3 percent from the field and 33.7 from 3-point range. In 14 games with the Grizzlies, those figures ballooned to 16.1 points, 4.0 assists, 46.3 percent from the field and 38.4 from deep.

So what did Memphis do differently, and how can the Lakers follow suit?

Mainly, the Grizzlies empowered Bradley to handle the ball a lot more than he did with the Clippers. Specifically he ran more pick-and-rolls and found success, ranking among the NBA’s 73rd percentile of scoring ball handlers in his time with Memphis (0.92 points per possession).

A mid-range maestro (55.9 percent with the Grizzlies; 45.3 yearlong), Bradley was at his best when turning the corner around a screen and hitting the brakes for his patented pull-up jumper.

Speaking of jump shots, that is the main course of Bradley’s offensive pallet. Eighty-one percent of his attempts last year were jumpers, and he hit a healthy 40.0 percent of them.

He was an active corner 3-point shooter (shooting 38.0 percent), but really made his bones inside of the arc, where he has historically grooved in handoff actions.

And Bradley flashed some playmaking in Memphis, too, as evidenced from his assists average doubling from his time with the Clippers.

Much of this had to do with his pick-and-roll volume increasing with the Grizzlies, as he did a nice job of delivering to his bigs, finding particular chemistry with Jonas Valanciunas and Joakim Noah.

“When I got (to Memphis), they wanted me to play like I played in Boston,” said Bradley, a seven-year Celtic. “They gave me that offensive confidence. They didn’t just tell me, ‘Go out there and just defend the best guy.’”

But if you ask Bradley himself, he’ll tell you that his cutting will be one of his primary weapons, especially playing alongside an elite passer like LeBron James. That’s a skill he developed while teammates with Rajon Rondo in Boston, and he is looking forward to building similar chemistry with James (plus rekindindling that connection with Rondo).

“I knew if I got an opportunity I could definitely complement his style of play, because of my cutting ability,” Bradley said. “I feel that’s a strength that I have and that (James) appreciates.”

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