Monday, Eric Bledsoe will turn 24. His last two birthdays, Bledsoe found himself with the Los Angeles Clippers backing up the “point god” Chris Paul. During those two years, the Kentucky star never averaged more than 20.4 minutes per game.
Now for his 24th birthday, he is leading an NBA team in scoring at 18.6 points per game, is starting and is on the All-Star ballot. How situations change.
What are Bledsoe’s numbers looking like now that he’s a marquee player(s)?
When he scored nine points Tuesday, that was the only time during the regular season he failed to score at least 13 points in a game. He just doesn’t have really bad games like some other players in the league. That’s one thing that sets him apart, into an upper echelon of players in the NBA.
The two most impressive parts about Bledsoe’s game are his scoring efficiency and shooting stroke (at least compared to perceptions and expectations).
His regular field goal percentage is just below 49 percent, good for 42nd in the league which is remarkable considering he isn’t a center or power forward who gets all their shots at the basket. 28 of the players ahead of Bledsoe are those players who camp near the rim.
Even further, when you look at adjusted or effective field goal percentage (which takes the value of three-pointers into account), Bledsoe shoots up to .536 percent tied with Dwayne Wade for 37th in the league.
The crazy thing is that Bledsoe wasn’t known for shooting when he came into the league or as a Clipper. His calling card was his speed, strength and elite athleticism. But his shooting has surprised me. His shot is so smooth and looks so effortless.
Bledsoe is also clutch. He seems to have a game winner or clutch shot every other game.
Another characteristic he exudes is his quiet confidence that translates to leadership. The familiar phrase “never get too high, never get too low” really applies here. Bledsoe’s demeanor embodies the phrase. With him on the court, Phoenix doesn’t get overly emotional; no matter what is happening. That’s not to say Bledsoe or the team isn’t passionate. They just generally have a better chance at surviving an opponent’s 10-0 than some other teams.
Bledsoe’s attributes on and off the court are going to end up earning him a hefty paycheck this summer. What a nice birthday present.