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5-on-5: Grading Eric Bledsoe in his 1st year as a starter

Part 4 of our 5-on-5 season recap focuses on Eric Bledsoe’s 2013-14 season. In his first season as a starter, he teamed with Goran Dragic and at times was part of one of the best starting lineups in the league. Injuries aside, here’s how the Valley of the Suns staff saw his season.

Eric Bledsoe was the guy with the most question marks coming into the year. Do you think he under-achieved or overachieved? Why?

Michael Schwartz: He definitely overachieved so long as you don’t ding him for getting hurt. The Suns’ defense was about 5 points per 100 better with Bledsoe, with a 100.5 defensive rating that’s comparable to a top-5 defense. He’s also the only guard to rank in the top 34 of defensive RPM all the way up at 16th, and that’s to say nothing of the way he blossomed as an all-around offensive threat. Finally, the Suns were 28-15 in games Bledsoe played and 20-19 in games he missed, meaning they played like a 4-5 seed in the West with Bledsoe in the lineup.

Dave Dulberg: Unquestionably, he overachieved. And in spite of his prolonged absence for the first two-and-a-half months of the calendar year, Bledsoe still was one of only six point guards to average at least 17.0 points, 5.0 assists and 4.0 rebounds this season, joining the likes of Chris Paul, Kemba Walker, Kyle Lowry, Kyrie Irving and Stephen Curry. Additionally, he gave the Suns another plus defender on the perimeter along with P.J. Tucker, something that had been missing over the previous handful of seasons. Bledsoe was a major reason why opponents shot just 34.1 percent from three-point range — the second lowest total in the league.

Ryan Weisert: Eric Bledsoe fully realized his potential. Last offseason, he was the most coveted asset on the market – an impressive distinction considering he had been a backup in LA for three seasons. Bledsoe came to Phoenix never having been THE guy, but he readily took on that role and delivered for the Suns from Day 1. Eric gave this team credibility from the moment he arrived, and his willingness to play alongside Goran Dragic was one of the biggest reasons the Suns were playoff contenders this year. Considering the leap Dragic took between his first and second year as a full-time starter in Phoenix, the Suns should expect to see even more from Bledsoe next season.

Jeff Sanders: Eric Bledsoe did neither — he played how I expected him to play. His season averages of 18 points, five rebounds and six assists were very similar to what he averaged during the 12 games he started for the Los Angeles Clippers in 2012-13. The word around the league was that he was a star in the making who needed a chance to play out of Chris Paul’s shadow. He lived up to my expectations and will be fun to see what he can do if he stays healthy for 82 games.

Kevin Zimmerman: Bledsoe met my own expectations as a do-it-all guard who was finding himself in the first year of playing a significant role. He’s a unique and dynamic defender at the guard position, and that more than anything makes him a potential max player. Offensively, Bledsoe is still raw and his high turnover rate in the final month of the year — including two seven-turnover games against Dallas and San Antonio — was emblematic of how much room he has to grow if he wants to be worth what we expect him to be valued at this summer.

  • Roger

    Irrespective of Bledsoe and Dragon missing games due to injuries, we still would’ve made the playoff if only Barbosa had been in the lineup. I think we really missed the Blur!!

  • EBJM

    Yeah, his 28% from from the three-point arc is exactly what the Suns were missing.

    Ish got 2.6 dimes to only T.O in 14 minutes.
    L.B. only managed 1.6 to 1 T.O. in 18 minutes.

    Ish had numerous more clutch shots.

    Neither are the answer. Archie Goodwin needs to take both of their minutes and hopefully the Suns draft a prospect to make both of them expendable.

  • EBJM

    Mr. Zimmerman you nailed it again! Bledsoe is an obvious athletic stud but he struggled a lot with his decision making and playing alongside another PG.

    The plus side is he did his best to make it work. If he could stay healthy a whole season so he and Dragic could become more fluid at high speed they would be impossible to stop.

  • DZ

    I understand the nostalgic draw of fans to Barbosa but he is done as more than an NBA role player. IF he could stay healthy, he actually could be an asset to any team off the bench. But he couldn’t stay healthy for long this season and it would be a miracle if he ever is able to play a full NBA season again… unless he spends most of his time sitting at the end of the bench instead of on the court.

    Don’t get me wrong, I love Barbosa’s determination, effort and what he’s done for the Suns in the past. But the past is the past. Barbosa can play at his old level for brief periods of time but he’s very prone to injury now. Stoudemire can do the same so why is no one wanting the Suns to bring him back?

    Let the past go.

  • emonec

    Something along the lines of Jeff Sanders and Kevin Zimmerman. He met expectations and has huge potential but for max contract player status he needs to work on his clutch time decisions and turnovers. Btw he has knee surgery history, but I guess that is not part of discussion here.


    I am not totally in love with Bledsoe as everyone seems to be. Besides constant injuries, he turned the ball over way to much, and did not show that good of a shot to warrant a max contract and be the future. I did see these characteristics in Napier although it was college.

  • JK

    With the time that Bledsoe actually was on the court, he definitely impressed me. I am hoping that the Suns lock him up long term and deal with the Dragic situation when his contract runs out when the time comes. Since Phoenix’s training staff is known as the best in the NBA, I am confident that Bledsoe will be able to stay on the court in upcoming seasons.