Society Top 50: No. 31 – Avery Bradley

Avery Bradley, Detroit Pistons
Credit: Ryan Cowan/Basketball Society

Name: Avery Bradley

Ranking: 31

Team: Detroit Pistons (Previously Boston Celtics)

2016-17 Regular Season Traditional Stats: 16.3 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 2.2 apg, 1.2 spg, 46.3 FG%, 39.0 3PT%, 73.1 FT%

2016-17 Regular Season Advanced Stats: 14.4 PER, 54.8 TS%, 3.1 WS, -0.2 OBPM, -0.4 DBPM, 0.7 VORP

The Breakdown: 

One of the rarest features to come by these days in the NBA is great defense. Some guys can play average on-ball defense or good off-ball defense, but not many players can do both at or close to an elite level. Offenses in the NBA are more potent, and life is only getting more difficult for defenders. Avery Bradley, however, is always up to the task of defending the opposing team’s best player.

As you can see in the highlights, Bradley possesses a plethora of ways to poke the ball free from the offensive player. He does this with some of the best ball handlers in the league, not just big men who can’t dribble. While he can’t play defense in the post all the time, he still has the tools to hold his own when having to switch into the paint.

Bradley is the number one example of stats not telling the whole story. Yes, his defensive box plus minus is in the negative, but he’s also playing defense against the best players on every team that the Celtics faced. He was the one guarding guys like Carmelo Anthony, Russell Westbrook, and Kyrie Irving. This is what made a duo like Bradley and Marcus Smart able to be as successful on defense as they were.

So, let’s talk some offense. When Avery Bradley first came into the league, he was an afterthought on the offensive side. Every season he improved in a different offensive aspect. His three-point shooting improved, his shooting off the dribble improved, and then his one-on-one moves improved. 1.7 points per game in his rookie season to 16.3 points per game this past season is nothing to sneeze at. We have yet to see him as a consistent number one option instead of the primary option only when injuries occur. Hopefully, he gets some more offensive freedom in Detroit.


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