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Avery Bradley nears return and Pistons must be careful how they utilize him

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Bradley was a full participant in practice and could play Wednesday against the Miami Heat

NBA: Golden State Warriors at Detroit Pistons Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Help might finally be on the way for the injury-riddled Detroit Pistons as Avery Bradley was a full participant in practice today and could suit up Wednesday against the Miami Heat.

Bradley’s groin injury limited him on the court and eventually forced him to miss the past seven games. In his absence, the team went 5-2, but with the subsequent injury to starting point guard Reggie Jackson the Pistons need all the backcourt help they can get.

Stanley Johnson did not practice Tuesday and missed Saturday’s game against the San Antonio Spurs with a hip flexor, an issue that has plagued Johnson for weeks now and has seen him fall in and out of the lineup.

The Pistons have also been without Jon Leuer for the past two months and there seems to be no update on when he will finally be able to return from an ankle injury.

It’ll be interesting to see how the team uses Bradley once he gets back with Jackson sidelined conceivably until April with a severe ankle sprain. The eight-year veteran has helped lead the team defensively and his 41 percent shooting from deep is exactly what the Pistons needed the off guard position.

But one thing that is already apparent just 28 games into his first season with Detroit is that he’s not a player the offense should play through. The more offense you put on his shoulders the less effective his overall play.

Bradley doesn’t have the handle to break players down and when you ask him to create what you’ll get is a lot of mid-range jumpers near the top of the key. Ironically, the Pistons need Bradley back now more than ever, but the reason they need him might lead Bradley to play to all his worst instincts.

Bradley’s scoring ranks as a pick-and-roll ball handler, isolation scorer, and off screens: 26.9, 13.6 and 28.7 percentile, respectively.

Conversely, his rank as a spot-up shooter: 85th percentile.

That is how Bradley needs to continue to be used. Let Ish Smith man the point position and get out and run whenever possible. Run the offense through Tobias Harris as much as possible. Let Bradley be a lockdown perimeter defender and be an offensive security blanket in the starting lineup.