Apr 14, 2014; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Phoenix Suns guard Eric Bledsoe (2) dribbles against the Memphis Grizzlies during the first half at US Airways Center. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Phoenix Suns Player Profile: Eric Bledsoe

December 27, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Phoenix Suns point guard Eric Bledsoe (2) dribbles against Golden State Warriors shooting guard Klay Thompson (11) during the first quarter at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Stats:|32.9 MPG|17.7 PPG|4.7 RPG|5.5 APG|0.3 BPG|1.6 SPG|.477 FG%|.357 3P%

On July 2nd, 2013, the news broke that the LA Clippers had agreed to a deal which sent backup point guard Eric Bledsoe to the Suns, along with Caron Butler. In return, the Clippers received forward Jared Dudley from the Suns and guard J.J. Reddick from the Bucks. Butler would later be shipped to Milwaukee as well, while Eric Bledsoe took the role of the first young star in the Suns rebuilding process.  His talents were always recognized in LA but he always sat in the shadow of Chris Paul. With the Suns, he was given the chance to start creating his own story as the leader of a team. Bledsoe turned in an excellent season for the Suns despite playing only 43 games, and there’s no doubt that he has been unleashed on the NBA landscape as a Sun.

Season Arc

When Bledsoe arrived, there were questions about whether this meant that Goran Dragic would be replaced. The Suns leadership shut that idea down, going instead with a two point guard system like the one coach Jeff Hornacek played in as a member of the Suns. Bledsoe came out showing that the hype surrounding his game was deserved. In his very first game as a member of the Suns, he exploded for 22 points, seven rebounds, and six assists, and he didn’t slow down from there. On December 30, Bledose suffered a shin injury against his former team. While originally thought to be fairly minor, it was found to be meniscus damage, and Bledsoe needed surgery. He opted to have it removed instead of repairs, which allowed him to make a later season return. On March 12, Bledsoe made his return in a loss to the Cavaliers, and retained his starting position only a couple of games later. He rounded out the season well despite the Suns coming up short of the postseason.

Best Game

It is very hard to pick a best game for Bledsoe, considering the high amount exceptional games he had.His best single moment was his game winning three pointer in his second game as a Sun. His best statistical night, however, was his 30 points, 11 board, and nine dime performance in a loss to the Spurs on April 11th.

Strengths

Bledsoe is a ridiculously gifted athlete. His speed, strength, and jumping ability make him one of the more dangerous guys to defend on the drive in the league. He is an elite defender at the guard spot because of his quick hands and keen on ball instincts. His court vision is also especially good, meaning he is lethal on a fastbreak because he can either power through and score or dish out a fancy assist. His physical gifts earned him the name “Mini Lebron” among Clippers teammates. Bledsoe’s body as a whole is just a basketball machine in every way.

Development

Bledsoe obviously was able to put up far better numbers as a starter instead of a backup. He adapted to a larger role very quickly. He also improved on his outside shooting as the season went on, which addresses a glaring weakness in his game.

Weaknesses

As mentioned before, Bledsoe’s ability to hit shots from a longer range could be better. Also, his running, chaotic play style leads to some nights of excessive turnovers, which he averaged 3.3 of per game. Bledsoe also seemed to have a hard time adjusting to more work off-ball when Goran Dragic was handling on offensive possessions, which led to some missed opportunities on offense for the Suns. Bledsoe is still young and adjusting to a new role, and he has shown that he can fix his shortcomings.

Future with the team

Eric Bledsoe is a restricted free agent this summer. The Suns have made clear that they will match any offer sheet for him, so he will likely get paid a max or near-max deal for several years. The Suns brought him as a long-term staple for the franchise, and it looks like the plan hasn’t changed.

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