Avery Bradley and KCP both make SI’s top 100 players list

DETROIT, MI - NOVEMBER 19: Avery Bradley
DETROIT, MI - NOVEMBER 19: Avery Bradley /

According to SI’s top 100 list, the Detroit Pistons made a big upgrade at the shooting guard position when they acquired Avery Bradley this summer.

The Boston Celtics need to cut salary in order to sign Gordon Hayward provided the Detroit Pistons an opportunity they couldn’t refuse. The Pistons had the chance to trade for Avery Bradley and sidestep Kentavious Caldwell-Pope‘s pending big deal, and upgrade the shooting guard position all in the process.

Bradley is measurably better than KCP, both offensively and defensively, and SI’s top 100 NBA player rankings agreed. Bradley checks in on the list at 54, while KCP is at 99.

SI’s Ben Golliver summarized the 3-and-D dichotomy facing KCP, newly of the Los Angeles Lakers.

"Cast as a prototypical 3-and-D wing, the 24-year-old shooting guard shot below league average from deep for the fourth straight year and posted a 107.7 defensive rating that was nearly seven points worse than Detroit’s mark when he was on the bench. Naturally, critics might wonder: If a “3-and-D wing” is both a subpar shooter and a minus defender, what is he?"

Some of his poor defensive numbers can be attributed to a second half of the season when he was an unmitigated disaster on both ends following a shoulder strain. While both KCP and the organization claim he wasn’t hurt, the alternative is that a high-character and high-energy 24-year-old decided to take the final three months of a contract year off.

As for Avery Bradley, the upgrade he represents is stark.

SI’s Rob Mahoney expresses what he brings to the table for the Detroit Pistons:

"There are quicker guards out there, but it’s Bradley who’s picking up his man at three-quarter court, turning every dribble into a battleground. There may be players closer to a loose ball, but Bradley is the one who makes up enough ground to snatch a possession away. There are better shooters and smoother ball-handlers, and yet Bradley has worked those skills and more to bring his greater game toward its reasonable limit. Bradley is one of those defenders (and one of those opponents in general, really) that nobody wants to face."

Bradley is an example of a player who has become more than the sum of his parts. At just 6’2″, he had a rebounding percentage of 10.1 percent. That’s a remarkable rate for any guard, let alone one with such diminutive stature. Without the monstrous physical assets and advantages some NBA players have, he closes the gap with hustle, effort, drive and intellect to maximize his tools.

Next: Reggie Jackson appears in SI's top 100 list

Bradley is perhaps the realistic (or even optimistic) ceiling for what we hoped Kentavious Caldwell-Pope might become. Pistons fans love a guy who can make life hell for an opponent on the defensive end of the floor, and that’s most certainly Avery Bradley.