Hometown: Birmingham, Alabama
Birthday: Dec. 9, 1989
Experience: 3 years
Draft: 2010, 18th overall pick by Thunder (traded to Clippers)
2013-14 Salary: $2,626,473
Season Outlook: If there’s one thing that won’t be questioned regarding Eric Bledsoe, it’s his athleticism that makes him one of the most dynamic young guards in the NBA. He’s no longer sitting behind Chris Paul, but Bledsoe will be brought along slowly and with shared point guard duties so long as Goran Dragic remains on the Suns. Either one of the duo will be asked to become an outlet if they’re near a rebound or a streaking fastbreak igniter if they’re on the other side of the court for first-year coach Jeff Hornacek’s offense.
On the defensive side of the ball, Bledsoe is a ball hawk who uses brute stretch and intuition to jump passing lanes and rip ball handlers to set up even more easy opportunities for Phoenix. Bledsoe is still learning the point guard position, and his development in that area will have everything to do with finding his ceiling.
Whatever happens to a Phoenix team expected to finish on the bottom of the Western Conference, Bledsoe will be a big part of it. If the Suns surprise, he’ll be looking at juicy restricted free agency offerings. If not, he still might get paid anyway.– Kevin Zimmerman
Biography: Bledsoe grew up in Birmingham, Ala., and though he became one of the better recruits in the country coming out of Parker High School, he wasn’t the cream of the class that joined John Calipari at Kentucky. Soon-to-be first overall pick in 2010, John Wall, and center DeMarcus Cousins led Calipari and the Wildcats to the Elite Eight in their single season with the program.
Bledsoe was a part of it, however. Recruited as a point guard, he averaged 11.3 points and 2.9 assists playing alongside Wall before deciding to leave for the NBA with Wall, Cousins and now-NBA-vagabond Daniel Orton. Bledsoe was selected 18th overall by the Oklahoma City Thunder but traded to the Los Angeles Clippers.
With Los Angeles, Bledsoe developed slowly and averaged 6.7 points and 3.6 assists as a rookie before the trade that netted the Clippers Chris Paul stunted his growth. In 2011-12, he averaged 3.3 points and 1.7 assists per game before emerging in a big way in 2012-13. Bledsoe averaged 8.5 points and 3.1 assists per game and especially shined off the bench because of his defense.
But this summer, with the Clippers looking for more veteran shooting, the team parted with Bledsoe and teammate Caron Butler in a deal that shipped Suns swingman Jared Dudley and Milwaukee Bucks guard J.J. Redick to Los Angeles.