Avery Bradley will be sidelined at least one more week for the Los Angeles Lakers, as the team announced that Bradley will not play in the upcoming road trip (or in their game on Sunday) after being re-evaluated on Saturday. However, Bradley has been cleared by doctors to begin “basketball progression,” according to the Lakers. He will be re-evaluated after the team returns from the road.
Bradley was diagnosed with a hairline fracture of the fibular head on his right leg on Nov. 15, and Lakers Head Coach Frank Vogel said on Friday night that the team has missed “everything” Bradley brought to the table in his absence.
“He’s one of our better two-way players,” Vogel said Friday night before the Lakers took on the Washington Wizards. “(He) really sets the tone for us on the defensive end. KCP has really picked up the slack and played extremely well in his absence, but when he moves up you lose him off the bench. And obviously Avery was giving us some scoring punch as well. We’ve missed him.”
Bradley’s return will be huge for the Lakers, as he’s made them a much better defensive player when he’s been on the floor this year. The Lakers are allowing just 98.6 points per 100 possessions during Bradley’s minutes this season, which only trails Alex Caruso among members of the team to appear in more than two games. That number skyrockets to 104.8 points per 100 possessions when Bradley sits, and the only player whose absence makes the Lakers’ worse defensively is Caruso (106.3).
Seeing those two paired in such metrics is of little surprise to frequent observers of the Lakers, as both Bradley and Caruso’s ball pressure has been integral to the Lakers’ defense being among the best in the league.
The Lakers had the best defense in the NBA when Bradley last played on Nov. 13, allowing just 99.5 points per 100 possessions. Since then, that number has dropped to 103.3 points per 100 possessions on the season, leaving the Lakers with the 10th-ranked defense in the league. In solely the seven games they’ve played since Bradley was forced to sit out, the Lakers have had the 18th-ranked defense in the league, giving up 109.6 points per 100 possessions.
So yeah, Bradley coming back is a big deal for the Lakers. Now they just have to wait a little longer for it to happen.