When Avery Bradley was cut by the Golden State Warriors in training camp, it came as no surprise that the Los Angeles Lakers came calling.
Bradley was a key member of the 2019-20 Lakers, and although he did not travel with them to the bubble, he was still a pivotal part of their title journey.
Although Bradley has declined since his last stint in Los Angeles, he brings a certain level of defensive intensity and effort that galvanizes the group and keeps them engaged on that end.
The veteran has reprised his role as a starter under head coach Frank Vogel and his play during the 2021-22 season was enough for the front office to fully guarantee his contract for the remainder of the year. The small-ball lineups head coach Frank Vogel has been using have turned the Lakers’ season around and Bradley believes they are just the thing they needed.
“I think this smaller lineup is activating us on both ends of the floor,” Bradley said after Friday night’s win over the Atlanta Hawks. “Like you said, we’re flying around, we’re executing our game plan trying to make it as hard as we can on their star players and I feel like we’re doing a great job as a group. We executed that tonight, Trae is a really good player, he had nine turnovers and that shows that we did our job.”
Playing without a traditional center gives the Lakers more spacing which in turn leads to more open looks and driving lanes to attack. In their win against the Hawks, Bradley took full advantage of those benefits as he scored 21 points on 8-of-11 shooting.
Bradley has been playing some of his best basketball offensively in recent weeks, and he revealed what he thinks has led to that.
“Defense. It gets me moving, it gets me thinking and I think it just makes the game that much easier for me on the offensive end. But credit to Russell Westbrook and LeBron. They’re making the game a lot easier for me. I’m able to cut, I’m able to shoot open threes, whatever it is. I’m just trying to play as hard as I can and whatever shots come to me, I’m able to knock them down.”
Bradley added that being aggressive offensively is something he is looking to do more, especially when going against elite point guards as was the case with Trae Young on Friday.
“Again, I think that’s just being aggressive. I had Trae Young on me, I know my job is to make him work on the defensive end. That’s what I tried to do every play down the floor and that was me being aggressive with the ball in my hand, cutting, making shots, whatever it was.
“I wanted to continue to make him work because he’s a very good player and try to tire him out as much as I can.”
With LeBron James and Russell Westbrook already carrying the playmaking burden, Los Angeles will need other people to step up and score when called upon. Seeing Bradley do so well offensively in a plus matchup against the Hawks was a welcomed sight and only raises the team’s ceiling.
Bradley has once again turned himself into a pivotal piece of the rotation, and he will need to be on his A-game again when Ja Morant and the Memphis Grizzlies come to town on Sunday.
Frank Vogel wants Avery Bradley to stay aggressive
Vogel has not been shy about how much he enjoys having Bradley back on the team as he has taken every opportunity to talk him up. When Bradley has it going on both ends of the floor, the Lakers are hard to beat which is why Vogel encourages him to stay aggressive when he is out on the floor.
“He’s a guy that’s averaged 20 points a game in this league. He’s capable and we want him being aggressive every time we shake hands before the game. We know what he’s going to bring on the defensive side of the ball, but I’m always telling him be aggressive shooting the basketball. Looking for your catch-and-shoots,” Vogel said.
“He’s really helped us out in a lot of situations the last few games with cuts late in possessions. Where it looks like we’re stuck and then all sudden he’ll break free under the basket and that saved a number of key possessions over the last few games and we want him staying aggressive offensively.”
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