To the dismay of Los Angeles Lakers fans across the universe, Avery Bradley has started 16 of 22 games this season and has played the fifth-most minutes on the team.

This is despite the fact that Bradley, 31, was signed into the Lakers' 15th and final open roster spot the day before the season opener after he had been waived by the Golden State Warriors. Well, that and the numbers.

Certainly, the Lakers' decision to tap Bradley as another familiar face to bring back into the fold — he was integral to the 2019-20 title team but missed the bubble due to his son's illness — was a consequence of preseason injuries on the wing. Kendrick Nunn remains out with a knee bone bruise, Talen Horton-Tucker underwent thumb surgery, and Wayne Ellington missed the season's first three weeks with a hamstring strain.

It was a bit of a surprise to see Bradley inserted into the game in the fourth quarter of the Lakers' opening night loss vs. the Warriors. However, he was one of the few Lakers in that game who made positive contributions. Since then, he's become a trusted mainstay in Frank Vogel's much-maligned starting lineup — and in the ire of LakersTwitter.

On Tuesday, Bradley was been diagnosed with a sprain of his UCL in his right thumb. He's been ruled out for Tuesday's matchup against the Sacramento Kings. The team said he'll be re-evaluated on Wednesday in Los Angeles. Horton-Tucker tore the same ligament. It's not unreasonable to expect Bradley to miss an extended period of time.

Obviously, it's unfortunate for Bradley and we hope to see him back out there soon and his injury is as pain-free as possible. From a Lakers perspective, though, his absence is going to force Frank Vogel to make a few changes. That's not a bad thing.

Bradley's statistics are horrid. The Lakers are -10.7 points per 100 possessions with him on the court. Their net rating is +2.3 with him on the bench. As ESPN's Zach Lowe noted, the Lakers are an unfathomable -107 in his 467 minutes this season.

The inclusion of him and DeAndre Jordan in the starting five hasn't cooled the temperature of Vogel's seat, at least in the minds and hearts of Lakers fans.

There are a few passable numbers. He's shooting 34.9% from the three-point range. Their starting lineup (AB/DJ/Bron/Russ/AD) has defended adequately, though have deeply struggled to score.

One day earlier, on Monday, Vogel was singing Bradley's praises. When specifically asked what value he sees in Bradley, Vogel acknowledged the stats, but explained that his intensity is theoretically contagious.

“Effort and intensity is infectious,” Vogel said. “He plays extremely hard. I know the numbers you’re talking about. We take them with a grain of salt. When a guy is bringing that type of effort and intensity, it’s just an intangible thing that energizes the group and sets the tone for our defense. So there’s a lot of positives with what he brings to the table.”

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I understand Vogel's stance. As me and my co-host Cooper Halpern of Silver Screen & Roll discussed on the latest episode of Lakers Multiverse (not to plug it or anything), Vogel is balancing two agendas with this re-tooled Lakers team: Specifically, he's trying to mix and match lineups and hone in on a rotation. More broadly, he's trying to establish a consistent culture — one defined by defensive buy-in and, to use a Vogel-ism, “care-factor”.

Bradley serves as a template, a proxy, for Vogel's ideal culture and on-court approach. To the Lakers coach, the statistical drop-off is worth it considering Bradley's value as a hard-working, constantly-moving example-setter. (On the pod, we coined the term “Bradley Button” for this type of player.)

Vogel surely leans on his familiarity with Bradley amidst so many moving pieces. His one supposed area of strength, perimeter defense, has been the Lakers' Achilles heel this season.

So that's the case for Bradley. Personally, I object.

For one, the Lakers (11-11, with a brutal post-Christmas schedule looming) need to start stacking wins, by any margin. I'm not a pure-numbers guy, but Bradley is so overwhelmingly statistically detrimental, it has to supersede his intangible impact. He has a counterproductive tendency to seek jumpers. His on-ball defense may not be all that good anymore and the Lakers haven't been able to contain wings despite his presence.

Plus, let's be real: a team led by LeBron James that is this accomplished, this experienced, and with this much pressure and stated intentions to contend — and with so much work left to do — shouldn't need Avery Bradley to set the tone.

So, it's yet another opportunity for Vogel to trot out a different starting lineup and tweak his wing rotation. Vogel has hinted that the Lakers will likely stick with Anthony Davis at the 4 to start games until Trevor Ariza returns, in which case, expect to see either Malik Monk, Wayne Ellington or Austin Reaves take Bradley's place (I prefer Reaves, considering his consistency and two-way ability). Maybe Vogel will give opening day starter Kent Bazemore a chance to re-emerge from his rut.

Add it to the still-lengthy list of things for the Lakers to figure out.