Tobias Harris has received most of the attention in the wake of the deal that sent Blake Griffin to the Detroit Pistons. However, Avery Bradley is not just a throw-in in the trade. In fact, his presence could very well determine if the LA Clippers make the playoffs.
Bradley has endured a tepid start to his Clippers’ tenure, although most of the attention has focused on his offense. Bradley has still proven to be an excellent defender, which is a necessity in a Western Conference dominated by perimeter scorers.
Five games also represent far too small a sample size to make any grand proclamation on Bradley’s skill or potential fit in LA. In fact, he showed great promise in a 114-101 win over the Brooklyn Nets.
"I think it's a mix of me trying to find my rhythm and my game and trying to learn how to play off these guys," Bradley told the LA Times. "They have a lot of offensive-minded guys on this team. So, I have to figure out–and not only myself–but Doc has to figure out how he wants to use me. It's only been a few games, so we'll figure it out."
Not only did Bradley–a solid shooter from distance–bury his first three-pointer in a Clippers uniform, he locked down on Allen Crabbe after the Net swingman got off to a hot start. Crabbe scored 10 points in the first 8:05 of the Clippers’ win, but head coach Doc Rivers ensured that Bradley would be matched up on him going forward.
Bradley’s on-ball defense played a big role in limiting Crabbe to just five points in the Brooklyn guard’s next 25 minutes of action. Bradley keyed the Clippers’ defense against the Nets’ perimeter players, as none shot better than 50 percent. Spencer Dinwiddie went 4-for-13, DeMarre Carroll was limited to 5-for-15, and D’Angelo Russell shot 7-for-17 off the bench.
Defense was key in running out to a 23-point lead before holding on for a 13-point win. The offense will come for Bradley, but if he can continue defending at this rate, the Clippers will have made a significant acquisition.
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