After struggling to make an impact with the Detroit Pistons and LA Clippers, Avery Bradley is starting to return to form on a star-studded Los Angeles Lakers team with Anthony Davis and LeBron James.
Through six games, Bradley is averaging a career-high 51.9% shooting from the field and the Lakers are allowing just 98.9 points per 100 possessions in the 27.8 minutes per game that Bradley plays, a career-best defensive rating for the guard. Granted, it’s an incredibly small sample size, but all of the little things he’s doing are sustainable because his role has been fairly simple: Make life easy on Davis and James.
It’s not a particularly glamorous role, but it’s one that Bradley and the rest of the team have to play if they want meaningful minutes. Luckily, it’s not a role Bradley minds playing.
After his season-high 16-point effort against the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday, Bradley said his mindset going into every game is to do what he can to help the Lakers’ superstar duo (via Broderick Turner of the L.A. Times):
“I’m just playing basketball,” Bradley said. “But I know one role I have for sure is out there competing on the defensive end every night, and I’m going to do that the entire game. That’s my role on this team. We’ve got two of the best players in the game in LeBron [James] and A.D., and it’s my job to make sure I’m doing my job every night for those guys. And that’s my mind-set, being ready to shoot to make their job easier when they pass for opportunities and defending the best guy or whoever is going every single night and taking that challenge.”
So far, Bradley’s done that well.
While his 3-ball isn’t falling at an especially high rate (35.3%), the three-man lineup of Bradley, James and Davis has outscored opponents by 17.1 points per 100 possessions this season. Again, it’s early, but he hasn’t been asked to do much and as long he stays within his role, there’s no reason to believe he won’t continue to be productive.
Bradley missed Tuesday’s game against the Chicago Bulls with a bruised lower right leg, but he said he expects to play on Friday against the Miami Heat. For now, Bradley is listed as questionable (although he’s confident he’ll play).
The Lakers will update Bradley’s status closer to tip-off.
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