Avery and the no good, very bad season

DETROIT, MI - JANUARY 15: Avery Bradley
DETROIT, MI - JANUARY 15: Avery Bradley /

Avery Bradley and the Pistons started out on the right foot, with his hot shooting and defensive hustle helping them to a 14-6 start. But with Detroit having lost eight of their last ten games, Bradley’s play has crashed as well.

When Avery Bradley first came to Detroit, his effect on what had been looked at as a sinking ship just a season earlier seemed enormous.

He and Tobias Harris came out hot, shooting threes at a better than 40 percent clip. Reggie Jackson looked explosive, and much maligned star Andre Drummond seemed revitalized, using the high post to zip passes into a cutting Bradley or dribble handoff and then rush to the basket to grab a potential offensive rebound.

Even the defense looked better, with Bradley’s overwhelming effort level hiding some of the mistakes that made Reggie Jackson such a liability in the previous year.

Jackson’s injury carries most of the blame for the Pistons recent struggles, but injuries and inefficiencies have played a huge role in Bradley’s decline as well. He’s missed five games due to injury already, including a nagging sore groin.

Despite that, he’s played quite a bit, including 29 minutes against the Wizards last Friday,  just two days after re-injuring himself.

That might be fine if Bradley was having a positive impact on Detroit’s play, but the numbers indicate that he’s been a massive detriment to the Pistons.

Detroit’s net rating on the season is a fairly underwhelming -0.6, but Bradley has by far the worst ON/OFF splits of any Piston getting regular playing time, at a horrific -9.0.

Perhaps most surprising, given his reputation in Boston, is that Detroit’s defensive rating is nearly a full 7 points worse with Bradley ON the floor than OFF.

It’s not just noise, no two-man combination with Bradley in it that has played more than 56 minutes together has a positive net rating.

Furthermore, playing with Bradley is the common denominator in the underwhelming ON/OFF splits and net-ratings of every starter.

For example, the Pistons have a net rating of -6.2 in the 1026 minutes Bradley and Tobias Harris have played together this season.

In fact, that 1026 minutes represents 48 percent of the total minutes Detroit has played as a team this entire season. That number is made even more staggering when taking into account that the Pistons are only -0.7 with Harris on the floor overall.

Two man lineups where Andre Drummond or Reggie Jackson play with Bradley also see the Pistons perform far below their season long ON/OFF splits.

Furthermore, here is how the Pistons fare in two man lineups where Harris, Drummond and Jackson play with either Luke Kennard or Langston Galloway:

This isn’t to say that replacing Bradley with either player would guarantee the Pistons a significantly better record.

But at this point in the season, one must question why head coach Stan Van Gundy continue to give Bradley as much playing time as he does.

Bradley is not signed past this season, is injury prone, the Pistons have two other players at his position signed for multiple seasons, and most importantly, are much worse with him on the floor.

Unless Van Gundy is shopping him around as trade bait, it doesn’t seem to make much sense for a healthy Bradley to be playing over either his backups, much less the hobbled mess he’s been as of late.

Additionally, it was recently revealed that he paid a large sum to have a sexual assault accusation from last year taken care of out of court. Bradley has denied any wrongdoing, but regardless of his play, is he someone that Van Gundy or Tom Gores is comfortable being associated with the Pistons?

At this point in time it seems the best routes for Detroit would be to trade Bradley while his reputation around the league is positive due to his success in Boston, or give the vast majority (if not all) of his playing time to their other, seemingly capable options.

Trying to justify potentially re-signing Bradley this offseason, especially should the Pistons miss the playoffs, will be a difficult task.

Either way, it seems to be time for Avery Bradley’s days in Detroit to come to an end.