Pistons Update: Avery Bradley in; KCP out

Guard Avery Bradley averaged 16 points and six rebounds last season for the Boston Celtics.

Goodbye, KCP, and hello, Avery Bradley.

The Boston Celtics decided they didn’t need the 26-year-old Bradley, a premier perimeter defender, after acquiring All-Star forward Gordon Hayward via free agency.

Realizing that the Celts were looking to deal Bradley, Detroit team president and head coach Stan Van Gundy wisely struck a deal with Boston team president and general manager Danny Ainge. In return for Bradley and a 2019 second-round draft pick, Boston received 6-foot-9-inch forward Marcus Morris.

By acquiring Bradley, it led to Detroit renouncing the rights to restricted free agent Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, making him an unrestricted free agent.  

Bradley, one of the best two-way players in today’s game, will impact the Pistons from both a defensive and offensive standpoint.

The Pistons underachieved last season to the tune of 37-45, largely due to a lackluster offense. In fact, the Pistons ranked 26th out of 30 NBA franchises in points per game during the 2016-17 campaign (101.3/game). They also managed to shoot only 44.9 percent from the field — 22nd in the league — and only 33 percent from 3-point range — 28th in the league.

Bradley will help out in both areas, and is able to contribute in both areas more than fellow shooting guard KCP.

How do I know this? Well, just look at Bradley’s field-goal percentage and 3-point FG percentage from last season, and then, take a look at KCP’s shooting numbers.

While Bradley shot 46.3 percent from the field and 39 percent from 3-point range, Caldwell-Pope shot just 39.9 percent and 35 percent, respectively.

And throughout their respective careers, Bradley has outperformed KCP when it comes to shooting the basketball.

Bradley is a career 44.2 percent shooter, while Caldwell-Pope is a career 40.5 percent shooter.

Bradley is also better than KCP when it comes to knocking down 2-point field goals. For the last two seasons, Bradley has made over 50 percent of his shots from 2-point range (50.5 percent in 2015-16 and 50.4 percent last season, respectively), while KCP has never once made over 50 percent of his 2-point attempts.

And career-wise, Bradley holds the edge in 2-point FG percentage, 47.7 percent to 45.9 percent.

There’s another way to compare the shooting ability of Bradley and KCP, too. It involves taking a look at an advanced statistic known as “true shooting percentage.” It takes into account a player’s “field goals, 3-point field goals and free throws,” according to Basketball-Reference.com.

Bradley’s TS% last season was nearly 55 percent (54.8), while KCP’s was 51.9 percent.

Bradley, a University of Texas product, is the better shooter from both short and long distance.

Bradley has also been an All-Defensive team selection twice. And as the result of his defensive prowess during the 2015-16 season, he was named to the All-Defensive First Team.

If he gets named to the All-Defensive First Team this upcoming season, he’d be the first Pistons player to do so since Ben Wallace following the 2005-06 campaign.

By the way, this past season, Bradley tallied the most All-Defensive team votes for a player that failed to make one of the league’s two All-Defensive squads. And his defensive productivity should be on the rise in a Pistons uniform.

Last season, he received little to no help in the Celtics’ backcourt due to the undersized Isaiah Thomas serving as floor general. It put an unnecessary amount of pressure on Bradley to get it done defensively.

With Reggie Jackson, who is 6 feet 3 inches tall, expected to predominantly handle the point guard duties in Motown during the 2017-18 season, Bradley should be better equipped to act as a lockdown defender on the perimeter. It would set Bradley up perfectly for a return to at least the league’s All-Defensive Second Team.

The Pistons would love if that occurred in their first season playing at Little Caesars Arena. It would assist in re-energizing a Pistons fanbase that has become despondent due to the Pistons making the playoffs only once in the last eight seasons. And that postseason trip, which took place in 2016, ended unceremoniously with a first-round sweep at the hands of the eventual NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers.

Detroit’s lackluster play has resulted in the franchise’s single season attendance finishing no better than 25th since the 2011-12 campaign.

Bradley shouldn’t be expected to put a huge dent into the attendance numbers. However, he’ll move the needle more than KCP. In that sense, he’s an upgrade over KCP.

More importantly, though, he’s a clear-cut upgrade over KCP from a pure basketball standpoint.

The only negative regarding the acquisition is that Bradley becomes an unrestricted free agent next summer, which could lead to him becoming a one-year rental for SVG and the Pistons.

But the Pistons, which are looking to become relevant as they usher in a new era in downtown Detroit and need to do whatever they can to boost the morale of their fans, cannot worry about the fallout from Bradley exiting after just one season.

Instead, they need to focus on establishing a winning product. And maybe, just maybe, if a winning product begins to emerge, it’ll convince Bradley to re-up long-term in the Motor City.