Clippers’ success may hinge on health of Avery Bradley

Clippers guard Avery Bradley tries to dribble past Lakers forward Brandon Ingram during Saturday's preseason game in Anaheim. The Clippers won 103-87.
Clippers guard Avery Bradley tries to dribble past Lakers forward Brandon Ingram during Saturday’s preseason game in Anaheim. The Clippers won 103-87.
(Kelvin Kuo / Associated Press)

Avery Bradley is considered to be one of the NBA’s premier lockdown defenders, his strength and moxie allowing the Clippers guard to defend point guards, shooting guards and small forwards.

Bradley has improved his three-point shooting, making him a reliable outside threat for the Clippers.

In today’s game, the likes of Bradley are known as “three-and-D players,” guys that can play high-level defense and make three-pointers at a high rate.


“I’m a basketball player,” Bradley said Saturday night before the Clippers defeated the Lakers 103-87 in an exhibition game at the Honda Center. “But if that’s what my role needs to be here, then that’s what it’s going to be, three-and-D. Whatever it takes. Whatever impact I need to bring to the team I’m willing to sacrifice whatever.”

Bradley has shot 36.6% from three-point range over his first eight seasons. He has twice made the All-Defensive team over that span.

He will be central to the Clippers’ success this season.

“He’s huge to what we do,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. “He does so many things. He can play the one [point guard] and the two [shooting guard]. He can guard one, two and three [small forward]. He’s our best cutter by 1,000 times. And I love who he is. Like, he’s serious. He doesn’t mess around. It’s not (stuff) with him. It’s every day and it’s consistent. It’s really good to have.”

Health will be paramount for Bradley and the Clippers.

He played in just six games for the Clippers last season after being acquired from the Detroit Pistons as part of the Blake Griffin trade.

Bradley had surgery to repair his abdominal muscles.

“I’m good. I’m good,” Bradley repeated. “At the end of the day, I know at this point in my career the only thing that can hurt me or affect the team is my health. I know I just need to be healthy and everything is going to be fine. I’m going to play well.”

Obviously the Clippers had the same belief when they agreed to re-sign Bradley to a two-year, $25-million contract.

“I needed to pick the best situation for me,” Bradley said. “Obviously there were other teams, but I felt like this was the best situation for me.”

Bradley and his running mate in the backcourt, Patrick Beverley, have the potential to form one of the best defensive guard combos in the league.

They can take turns defending three positions. They can defend all over the court.

Bradley said he thinks he and Beverley can be special on defense.

“We will be,” Bradley said. “I think that’s our identity. That’s just who we are. That’s who we are and who we can be.”

Twitter: @BA_Turner