Meet Avery Bradley (and goodbye Marcus and KCP)
So what is the trade?
The Pistons traded Marcus Morris to the Celtics for Avery Bradley and the Celtics 2019 2nd round pick. And even though this is not part of the trade, as a direct result of this trade the Pistons have renounced the rights to KCP which makes him an unrestricted free agent and more or less ensures that he is done with the Pistons.
First things first:
KCP and Morris were excellent players who played hard damn near every single game. There has been a lot said about that so I won't go too far with it, but they really will be missed even if this ends up being a good move (which it likely is).
So who is Avery Bradley?
Avery Bradley is a 6'2 (with a 6'7 wingspan) combo guard the age of 26 years. He will turn 27 in November. Bradley was born in Tacoma, Washington. He lived a couple of different parents as his father is/was a career military man but he lived in Tacoma for most of his childhood. Bradley was a highly touted high school player and had huge amounts of success. After high school Bradley attended the University of Texas at Austin, where he played one year and earned all Big 12 freshman honors and ass big 12 honorable mention. He was drafted 19th overall by the Celtics in the 2010 NBA draft, and has played with them ever since. He was sparingly used in his rookie season, but by his 3rd year he was playing 28 minutes per game and making his way as a defensive specialist. Bradley has improved every year in almost every aspect of his game, going from a 7 point, 1.4 assists, on almost no 3 point shots player in that 3rd year, to a 16.3 point, 2.2 assist, 6.1 rebounds per game with a 39% mark from 3 on 5 attempts per game, all while remaining an elite perimeter defender.
Avery Bradley is really good in pretty much all the ways the Pistons need, he is a good outside shooter. We will see if he matches the lofty heights he set last year again, but his last 4 years he shot: 39.5%, 35.2%, 36.1%, and 39% from 3. So much like I mentioned with Langston Galloway, even if Bradley may not flirt with 40% on high volume again, he is very unlikely to flirt with 30% like so many Pistons players have over the last couple of years.
Bradley is also very good as a secondary ball handler, it is far from ideal to have him as the lead point guard on the floor for any extended stretches but he can manage a few possessions, but he will give the Pistons the true secondary ball handler that they have rather desperately needed the past couple of years. He will give some legitimate playmaking and ball handling alongside Reggie Jackson and in theory can take some pressure off of him and Tobias Harris to create everything on offense.
Lastly is his defense. Avery Bradley is legitimately one of THE best perimeter defenders in the NBA. He can guard point guards or shooting guards, although like KCP he has some trouble sticking with bigger wings. Bradley is a force on the defensive end.
Throw in a dash of shot creation and solid rebounding for a guard and you have yourself damn near the perfect role player in Avery Bradley. He is basically the absolute upside of what KCP could become, a very good shooter, elite defender, and capable ball handler. He also of course consistently plays hard every night.
There is not much wrong with Bradley as a player, the only real knock on him is that his size means that he has the same trouble defensively that plagued KCP a bit. When tasked with guarding bigger/physical wings he can sometimes have trouble. Bradley is strong, tough, and plays bigger than his size, but the Pistons are going to have issues when playing, say, the Wolves next year. Wiggins/Butler are both good enough that you are not going to hide Reggie Jackson there, and both of them are big and often bruising scorers that Bradley will have problems with. Other than that though, there is not really anything to complain about with Bradley as a player.
Beyond just him as a player, there are a couple of 100% legitimate bads, and a couple of potentially bad. The for sure bad thing is that, even if Bradley is an upgrade, the Pistons are now letting KCP walk for nothing, which is not ideal no matter how you slice it. I was in favor of letting this Summer come around and seeing how it played out, and was comfortable with the fact that it meant KCP could end up walking for nothing, but renouncing his rights is not an ideal situation. Throw in that the Pistons traded Marcus Morris, an important player who played a ton of minutes the last 2 years, and there is a cost to this move, even if Bradley is worth it.
The potentially bad goes hand in hand with KCP and Morris leaving. Bradley is only under contract for this one more season, after which he will be an unrestricted free agent. On top of that, with Morris' departure this means that Stanley Johnson is about to go back up to being a pretty high minutes player (even if SVG uses Tobais and Leuer as his starters. Which, please no. Start Stanley please SVG.) and even though he still has plenty of potential, he is far from a sure thing as being worthy of taking on those minutes, on top of that Leuer or potentially Ellenson is likely to get more minutes/a larger role. Essentially, Marcus was a known commodity who was soaking up a large number of minutes, and a lot of those minutes are likely to be taken over by people who are less known. If Stanley makes a leap and Leuer/Ellenson play well then this would be a good thing, but if Stanley and Leuer continue to struggle, the Pistons could end up missing Marcus a great deal.
Best case scenario:
KCP does end up getting some absurd contract that the Pistons never would've wanted to match anyways, Stanley Johnson makes the leap to being an all star caliber player, and Jon Leuer gets back to not sucking, and the Pistons suddenly find themselves with one of the deepest rotations in the NBA. Stanley Johnson becomes the man to end LeBron as the king, Avery Bradley shuts down Steph Curry, and the Pistons win multiple NBA titles. (This includes the Pistons retaining Bradley for a fairly reasonable price after this year)
Worst case scenario:
Stanley is not ready for major minutes and ends up busting, while Leuer never remembers to shoot and Ellenson can't defend Yi Jianlian's chair, Bradley is his solid self but struggles a bit outside the friendly confines of Boston's offensive system, Reggie Jackson isn't healthy again and is actually just broken, and Kennard does not impress either. Bradley leaves after one season after the Pistons miss the playoffs in a comically weak Eastern conference, leaving the Pistons in need of a new starting point guard, shooting guard, and small forward, with limited ways of getting them, and a blowup of the team is likely required. For good measure KCP ends up signing a very reasonable contract and continues to improve until he is a all star caliber player.
I will miss Marcus and KCP immensely, but this is a good trade right now. The only way this really ends up being a really poor trade is if all 3 of the Pistons youngins (Stanley, Kennard, Ellenson) don't pan out and Bradley leaves next offseason. Even if Bradley leaves next offseason the Pistons are in the same situation they were potentially looking at if KCP got a huge offer they didn't want to match, except now they will have gotten another year to try and groom someone else (likely Kennard or Stanley) as being the starting 2 of the future. It is a bit of a gamble, but a very good one for the Pistons. It should also be noted, that heading into the offseason, the Pistons biggest needs were: Shooting, secondary ball-handling, and defense. 2 of the guys they have added check all 3 of those boxes, and Kennard (should) check the first 2. I still wouldn't be surprised if the Pistons were not totally done yet this offseason, but they are looking pretty good right now.
Upshot for the rest of the roster:
With KCP gone, Bradley will be the starting shooting guard without question. Marcus' departure will mean either Stanley moves into the starting lineup to take his place, or Tobias moves to SF and Leuer starts at the 4. Although regardless of who starts, it will mean big minutes for Stanley and more minutes for Tobias at the 3. This also clarifies Galloway's role a bit as he will no longer be competing with Stanley for minutes. And although they are undersized, both galloway and Bradley are capable of playing alongside 2 other guards in some matchups so Kennard could well still get plenty of run. Essentially this opens up more playing time on the wing for the Pistons pair of young wings. Also with the departure of Morris, Ellenson is closer to playing time than he was before. Since last year, if either Leuer or Tobias had gotten hurt, SVG would've almost certainly bumped guys down a spot by having Morris play more minutes at the 4, Stanley at the 3, and Bullock getting some run. With Morris gone, if either Tobias or Leuer goes out then Ellenson is the next guy up without question.
What do you think? Do you like the trade? Can Stanley step up? Will the Pistons make another move?
Programming note: I had to go where they had power to get this post up, but there will be a post on Eric Moreland (center who the Pistons just signed off their summer league team) whenever I have internet back at my house. Also, if you are waiting for a podcast on all of this, it will be coming hopefully Monday, and there will be a very special guest that I think everyone will really enjoy, even if it has some potential to end up basically being a first take episode lol.