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Clippers Retrospective: Avery Bradley and His 49 Games From Hell

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Who wants to forget Avery Bradley’s tenure with the Clippers more? Fans? Or Avery himself?

NBA: Los Angeles Clippers at Toronto Raptors Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Key Stats

  • Acquired on January 29, 2018, from the Detroit Pistons with Tobias Harris, Boban Marjanovic, and draft considerations for Blake Griffin, Willie Reed, and Brice Johnson
  • Re-signed with the Clippers on July 9, 2018, for two years (second year partially guaranteed) and $25 million
  • Appeared in 55 games for the Clippers across two partial seasons, starting all of them
  • Averaged 29.9 minutes, 8.2 points, 2 assists, and 0.6 steals on .383/.337/.800 shooting across 49 games in 2018-19
  • Earned an immeasurable level of fan loathing
  • Traded to the Memphis Grizzlies on February 27, 2019, for JaMychal Green and Garrett Temple

Expectations

Mixed? I’m referring mostly to Avery Bradley’s re-signing in the summer of 2018. Officially, he was acquired in the Blake Griffin trade a few months prior, but that felt more like a relationship by circumstance. The new contract was a more assertive commitment.

And it was a polarizing one. The Clips Nation trade-grade committee offered less than a C+ average, although the assessments spanned a wide range, from a D to two Bs.

Polarizing may be an accurate characterization of Bradley’s career in general. He’s an eye-of-the-beholder player. Still only 28 years old, he has been named to the NBA All-Defensive Team twice. Advanced statistics remain skeptical. Doc Rivers and the coaching staff reportedly called him “un-statable”. Our own Robert Flom wrote how he’s not.

So, what’s the reality?

Reality

Avery Bradley sucked. For 49 games, at least.

In 1,463 minutes with the Clippers, he recorded a 5.5 PER. Wanna guess how many players earned at least 1,000 this season and managed worse? None. His True Shooting % was 46.4% even though his usage rate was a piddling 14.2. My wedding china gets more work. Know how many other 1,000-minute players shot that poorly? Bingo. (Irony intended.)

Now, I’m cherrypicking a bit here. Comparing his partial season performance to other players’ full season performances isn’t wholly fair, even when applying the minutes played baseline. Players run cold, even for months at a time. Bradley’s 14 games with Memphis happened, and in them he regressed to and even a bit beyond his career norms. The small-sample warning applies, but the Grizzlies’ Avery Bradley looked much more like the Celtics’ Avery Bradley. In other words, he was useful again. Take his whole year together and the numbers look ever so slightly less putrid.

Bradley was most productive during the 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons, which you can call outliers or you can call the natural progression of a moderately-promising guard entering his career prime in his mid-20s. Again with the eye-of-the-beholder thing.

Legacy

Avery Bradley was once pretty good. Or really good. (He was ESPN’s top-rated player in the 2009 high school class.) He may be good again. There’s provenance. Since I like watching the Lakers lose, I hope he’s not good this year, but in another season and other colors, sure, I’ll root for the guy.

As for his Clippers career, perhaps it’s something we all best forget.

Editor’s Note: I don’t think it’s something we should forget. Distaste for Avery Bradley was a unifying theme across all of Clippers’ fandom, and in the oft-trying days of a championship-contending team, it might be good for us all to remember simpler times.