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Pistons Tune Up: Avery Bradley needs to shed injury prone label this season

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If he’s going to get that big contract at the end of the year, Bradley needs to stay healthy and effective.

NBA: Preseason-Charlotte Hornets at Detroit Pistons Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Pistons finished a disappointing 37-45 last season. As the team looks to improve and regain a spot in the playoffs, Detroit Bad Boys is examining three things each player can do to improve their game and improve the chance the team wins. Whether you’re new to the game or a season Pistons watcher, these are important factors that anyone can appreciate and will help you understand and evaluate Detroit’s team as we get ready for the 2017-18 season.

Health

Avery Bradley has missed more than 20 games in five of his seven seasons. Last year he only managed 55 regular season games thanks to an Achilles injury, though he was healthy through the playoffs. He’s getting a reasonably-deserved reputation as an injury-prone player, which will be a major consideration as he heads to free agency this summer. It’ll also be key to the Pistons’ chances. They have solid depth at shooting guard with Langston Galloway, Luke Kennard, and Reggie Bullock all likely able to provide competent minutes, but if the Pistons are going to make noise in the playoff race in the East, they’ll need Bradley out there. And he’s already been hobbled in the preseason with a cranky ankle.

Three point shooting

Bradley’s shooting from deep has been up and down throughout his career. He’ll shoot around 40 percent one year, then in the low-to-mid 30 percent the next. And his efficiency as a scorer has followed that trend. When Bradley is knocking down his three point shot, he’s a reasonably efficient scorer. When he isn’t, he’s not. And the Pistons desperately need guys who can both shoot the ball and score efficiently.

Defense

Bradley is regularly called one of the most underrated players in the league. And also one of the best perimeter defensive players in the league. But the numbers don’t match that reputation. Last year players shot two percentage points above their average field goal percentage when matched up with Bradley. He was 67th in the league in defensive real plus minus. Boston’s defensive rating was better with Bradley off the court. So is it possible he’s actually overrated, particularly on the defensive end?

In our brief glances at Bradley this preseason, it’s easy to see how he’s gotten his reputation. He has been a nuisance on the defensive side of the ball with his on the ball pressure and in playing the passing lane. So this may be a time where a player is more effective than the numbers suggest. But it’s worth watching. And if the Pistons plan on investing in Bradley beyond just this season at the price he’ll command, he’d better be a stopper.