Los Angeles Lakers: Why the record without Avery Bradley is misleading

The Los Angeles Lakers have been great this season without Avery Bradley.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported this past week that Los Angeles Lakers guard Avery Bradley would not be returning to the team during the NBA’s Disney World restart. Bradley is not returning because of concerns with his family, as his son has had problems recovering from respiratory illnesses before.

I cannot say this enough: good on Avery Bradley and more power to him. Family comes first.

This does leave a hole on the Los Angeles Lakers, which at first seemed like it was going to have a big impact on the team. After all, Bradley is a solid player on both sides of the court and is the perfect point guard to start alongside LeBron James as he does not need the ball to succeed.

However, in the following days with more time to digest how the team will look without Bradley, it does not look as bleak. One important note that we brought up here at Lake Show Life is that Kentavious Caldwell-Pope has been really good this season and that the Lakers, statistically, have been better with KCP on the court and Bradley off the court.

There is another stat that has been circling that has made Laker fans feel more comfortable about not having Bradley; the Los Angeles Lakers are 13-1 when Bradley did not play this season.

While that is absolutely true, that number is a bit misleading and Laker fans should not take complete solace in thinking that the Lakers are fine — if not better off — without Bradley. The team is really talented and is really well-coached, so they will overcome this hurdle, but it is still a hurdle nonetheless.

Why the Los Angeles Lakers’ record without Avery Bradley is misleading:

First off, let’s look at the teams that the Los Angeles Lakers played without Avery Bradley. Bradley missed the November 5 game against the Chicago Bulls before missing a 12-game stretch from November 15 to December 8.

Three of those 14 games were against teams that did not get invited to the 22-team bubble and another six were against teams that are invited to the bubble but are below .500. Thus, nine of the 14 games were against losing teams.

The five exceptions are two games against the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Dallas Mavericks, the Denver Nuggets and the Utah Jazz. Those are solid teams and the Lakers’ lone loss in this stretch was against Dallas.

Not only was the schedule easy during this stretch, but the Lakers as a collective unit caught fire from beyond the arc. This had nothing to do with Bradley not playing, the team simply started to hit more three-point shots and enjoyed its best shooting stretch of the entire year — something we cannot simply except out of the team without Bradley in Orlando.

The Lakers shot a combined 40.3 percent from beyond the arc from November 15 to December 8 and shot 43.8 percent from beyond the arc in the single-game missed against the Bulls. Those are both much higher than the team’s 35.5 three-point percentage this season.

Shooting over 40 percent as a team is really hard to do. The best team in the league this season is shooting 38.3 percent as a collective unit.

The team was not taking more three-pointers without Bradley, either. The Lakers averaged 31.5 threes per game from November 15 to December 8 and attempted 33 against the Bulls. Their season average is 31.4 per game.

Some guys just caught fire. KCP shot 44.7 percent from three in that stretch, Alex Caruso shot 40 percent and even Rajon Rondo shot 54.5 percent from three on 2.8 attempts per game. He is shooting 32.8 percent from beyond the arc over the entire season.

The reason why the Los Angeles Lakers were winning without Avery Bradley had nothing to do with Avery Bradley. Because even if Bradley played, the team would have still caught the hot hand from three, as it was one of those natural hot stretches that occurs during a basketball season.

Next: Game-by-game predictions for final eight games

So don’t be overly confident of the Lakers without Bradley, unless you are expecting the team to shoot over 40 percent from three in the playoffs.

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