Eric Bledsoe‘s early season play has been a revelation for many basketball fans. He has led the Phoenix Suns to a surprising 5-2 record to start the season. It was conceded that the Suns would be one of the organizations that would want to tank this season, especially since they traded Marcin Gortat –whom most pundits believed to be the team’s best player– prior to the start of the season. Apparently you can’t really grade a player’s competitive nature when evaluating him; not when he’s ready to seize his shining moment.
Given his first opportunity since high school to be a full-time starting point guard, Bledsoe is showing that he belongs in the conversation when discussing the best at his position. During his lone season at the University of Kentucky, even though he was in the starting lineup, he played mostly off the ball because John Wall had most of the offensive responsibilities. Bledsoe is similar to Wall in the way that both players like to attack the basket; Eric is averaging 7.6 free throw attempts in the early going.
A lot of times, young players come into the league, get thrown to the wolves and end up losing their confidence. Bledsoe had the opportunity as a rookie to play behind one of the nicest guys in Baron Davis, who was as gifted athletically as Bledsoe in his early days. For the past two seasons, arguably the best point guard of this era played the role of mentor for Bledsoe. Chris Paul has a fiery nature and is a great on court leader; Bledsoe is not as vocal but you can see some leadership qualities in him that was probably rubbed off from Paul.
It’s too early to tell if Phoenix can sustain this success throughout the entire season, but if they don’t, it won’t be because of Bledsoe. He is currently averaging 21 points and 7 assists per game; if the offensive numbers tail, he’ll still remain productive because he is already one of the best perimeter defenders in the NBA. You can see the defensive element missing from his former team; it’s no coincidence that the Clippers are one of the worst defending teams now that Bledsoe is no longer there to disrupt opposing offenses.
I’m excited that Bledsoe is being granted the chance to be the face of a franchise. His play is one that I’ll be monitoring all season long.