Anthony Davis and the Los Angeles Lakers have settled atop the Western Conference standings after several standout performances and have done it behind a suffocating defense.
However, the ancillary players on the roster like Danny Green, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and Alex Caruso have all done their part on the defensive end, funneling players into the centers on drives, chasing shooters off screens, and rotating and contesting shots along the perimeter.
What makes the team’s defensive start so impressive is they have managed to stay this effective without Avery Bradley in the starting lineup.
Bradley has been out of the lineup for the past few weeks after suffering a hairline fracture in the team’s win against the San Antonio Spurs and was a key cog in head coach Frank Vogel’s scheme.
Bradley was recently cleared for full contact and it appears he is set to make his return against the Orlando Magic, according to Brad Turner of Los Angeles Times:
Avery Bradley worked out again today with Lakers in Orlando and will play against the Magic Wednesday, per source. He will be on about a 20 minutes restriction. Bradley had been out with a hairline fracture in his lower right leg.
— Brad Turner (@BA_Turner) December 11, 2019
And as it currently stands, Bradley is listed as ‘probable’ against the Magic now, according to Mike Trudell of Lakers:
On the flip side, Avery Bradley is listed as “probable” to make his return from the hairline fracture in his right leg. Meanwhile, Rajon Rondo is “questionable” (left hamstring strain); and Anthony Davis is “probable” (sore right shoulder).
— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) December 11, 2019
After missing 13 games, this is an encouraging update considering Rajon Rondo (hamstring strain) is questionable while Kyle Kuzma (ankle) will not play.
While the Lakers have plenty of point guard depth, Bradley’s defense will be key during their five-game road trip despite him being on a minutes restriction.