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Avery Bradley Has Struggled Offensively in his Clippers’ Career

While he is a great perimeter defender, Bradley’s game has taken a step back in many ways, especially on offense.

NBA: Oklahoma City Thunder at Los Angeles Clippers Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

This summer, the Los Angeles Clippers made Avery Bradley a very rich man, signing the 27 year-old to a two-year, $25 million deal. This deal was thought to be solid due to the Clippers new mantra of “Clamp City” and Bradley’s relative youth despite being an 8-year veteran.

In the past, Bradley was a very solid two-way player in the mold of the prototypical 3-and-D player that every franchise covets. He was good for 15 points a night, and you could always count on that stellar defense. Bradley has shot over 38 percent from three, over a full season, four separate times in his career and is a career 44 percent shooter from the field.

Despite Bradley struggling a bit with the Detroit Pistons in his first season there last year, he was still averaging 15 points a game and shooting 38.1 percent from three. Therefore, hopes were somewhat high for both Bradley and Tobias Harris when they came to L.A. However, while Harris has gone on to become the Clippers best player and a potential max-contract guy come next summer, Bradley’s offensive game has seemingly fallen off a cliff since he has moved to the City of Angels.

While Bradley’s six games in a Clipper uniform last season can probably be forgiven, as he was dealing with an eventual season-ending abdominal injury, his performance this season hasn’t alleviated any worries. The most alarming stat of all is his three-point shooting since joining the Clippers.

In the 13 total games he has played with L.A., Avery Bradley has made five threes. He has attempted 32. Bradley is therefore a 15.6 percent three-point shooter as a member of the Clippers. For someone who is a career 36.6 percent shooter from deep, he certainly has not shown such prowess in L.A. thus far. He is only shooting 27.8 percent from the field as well. Don’t let Avery know this, however, as he has taken the fourth most shots on the team through two games — but is only the sixth leading scorer with 11 combined points.

The frustrating part of the Bradley’s game thus far is his inability to create a shot for himself. He relies on pump-fakes to get open for long two’s that he has missed consistently. While he is a good rebounding guard, he is only 6’2, so his impact there is limited (although he did have a nice outback dunk against the Nuggets). He seems hesitant to shoot the three when coming off screens, even when the defender goes under, and he can’t consistently hit the step back J’s he’s been jacking. His catch-and-shoot rhythm is off, and he actually has more turnovers thus far than assists.

Another alarming aspect of Bradley’s game is his lack of impact on the floor. Nowhere was this most clear than in the final three minutes of game one against the Nuggets. Avery came in for a visibly upset Lou Williams, who had three points and five assists in the nine minutes he played in the fourth, and proceeded to do nothing for the remainder of the quarter. His lack of playmaking, as well as Patrick Beverley’s, caused the Clippers to lose the quarter late, and thus the game. Doc tried to rectify this as he put Lou back in the game, but it was too little, too late.

Fast forward to Friday night against the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Clippers jumped out to a 16-0 lead early in the first, only to squander this by the middle of the third quarter, and were down for half of the final frame as well. While Avery contributed to the hot start, hitting a three and posting a plus-11 in the first quarter, the rest of the game was a train wreck for him. He went 0-for-4 in the second period and 0-of-2 in the third with a minus-8 in the +/- despite playing the entire quarter. While defense is Avery’s calling card, he allowed Paul George to score 13 points in the third, and the Thunder busted out to a nine point lead late in the quarter, their biggest lead of the game. With Bradley out in the fourth, and the playmaking-heavy guard duo of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Lou Williams in his place, the Clips stormed to a 27-5 comeback and won the game handily. Coincidence? I don’t think so.

There has to be a reason that Doc has started Avery every single game of his Clipper career right? Besides the obvious Celtic connection and Doc’s affinity for players he has coached prior, why else would Bradley be getting starters minutes? Our Editor in Chief here at Clips Nation, Lucas Hann, proposed a pretty valid argument for why Avery might be playing as many minutes as he has been: trade value.

This Clippers team could be active in the trade market. By dealing Bradley, they could clear significant cap space and increase their chance at two max-contracts come the summer of 2019. Playing Bradley in these important minutes could be an attempt at upping his trade value before the trade deadline in February, as he could be a solid off-the-bench, 3-and-D guy for a surging playoff team who needs depth. Teams will reach for him if he proves his worth this season. The thing is, so far he looks like a shell of his former self.

The Clippers do not have their 1st round draft pick this season if they make the playoffs, as the Celtics got it in the baffling move to trade for Jeff Green mid-season in 2016. While the question remains if the Clippers are a playoff team in the West this season, a mid-season trade for a protected first (unlikely) or a second-round pick for Bradley could prove to be a good move.

I know that overreacting to two early regular season games is a bit much. However, Bradley is simply not helping this team much outside of some solid perimeter defense. Rookie SGA has been a more impactful two-way player thus far (even in the preseason), and it hasn’t been close. If this trend continues, why have Bradley start? Let’s hope that Bradley can get it together here soon, but time is ticking on his tenure in L.A. already.