With the NBA set to return here shortly, the list of players who will opt out of playing has started to come in. Thus far, none have been more notable than Avery Bradley opting out of playing. Bradley is opting out because of family concerns. Nobody who is rational is mad at Bradley, but from a basketball perspective… the Lakers 2020 title hopes are over.
Bradley is so important to the Lakers. What have we said about LeBron forever? He needs shooters to win. When LeBron drives to the lane and a double comes, he needs those shooters to knock down shots. While I’ve often thought LeBron’s playing style is not great, that’s just the way his cookie crumbles. Removing Bradley from the equation is a big problem.
Bradley is shooting a respectable 36.4 percent from 3-point range. Bradley ranks 3rd on the team in that mark out of players with more than 2 attempts per game. Guess who’s getting those shots now? Quinn Cook (who I would actually trust), JR Smith, and Dion Waiters. That’s right… we get to see JR on the floor again. How is any of that great for LA?
More so than anything, Bradley can defend. He ranks 3rd on the Lakers in defensive win shares. This Lakers team cannot defend. Neither of the Cook, Smith, or Waiters replacements are considered even close to the defender that Bradley is. If anything, those 3 guys are turnstiles. Kyle Kuzma can’t defend anymore either.
Bradley was a piece the Lakers needed. They already lacked depth. Now you’re taking away 24 minutes a night, 8.6 points, and a shooter on the outside. It also seems possible given reports that Dwight Howard will sit out which would present a whole different set of problems for the Lakers.
I don’t see how the Lakers, given the way things stand, that they can possibly beat the Clippers in a series. How are you going to pull that one off with JR Smith on the floor? I won’t say it’s 100 percent impossible the Lakers win given that this year feels like a wildcard year. However, there’s no denying losing Avery Bradley kills the Lakers 2020 title hopes.