We’re all familiar with the work of Eric Bledsoe. So is Jamal Crawford. In a conversation with Alex Kennedy of Hoopsworld, Crawford stated that he thinks Bledsoe can emerge as a star with the Phoenix Suns,
“He’ll be a star, no question,” Crawford said of Bledsoe. “The guidance and tutelage from Chris and Chauncey and Mo Williams, who was here before, only made him better as a point guard. He’ll definitely be a star. I don’t know when because everybody’s [learning] curve is a little bit different, but there’s no question he’ll be a star. He has the athletic ability and he wants to get better. He has gotten better. A team like that in Phoenix, they’re going to see great results. I think he’ll be exciting to watch too. He was a joy to play with and his growth last year was tremendous. You never want somebody to get hurt, but when Chris went down, Bledsoe stepped in and he did a heck of a job.”
These are all valid statements from Crawford, but Bledsoe’s going to have to improve his skills on the offensive end if he wants to take the next step as a point guard. Though the term irks me, Bledsoe isn’t much of a “true point guard”. He thrived best when used in 5-7 minute spurts off the bench wreaking havoc on the opposite teams guard. Watching Synergy clips on Bledsoe you see that he often tried to do too much when pushing the ball in transition instead of pulling the ball out and resetting the offense. Synergy notes that Bledsoe turned the ball over 22 percent on the times in transition. For comparison check out the turnover percentage in transition for top point guards:
- Kyrie Irving -13.9%
- Mike Conley – 9%
- Ty Lawson- 14.1%
- Russell Westbrook – 10.9%
- Chris Paul – 17.9%
- Tony Parker – 11.3%
On a team that kept up a relatively high pace last season that’s a number he’ll have to get down to become more effective and makes those around him better.
The biggest sample size to use when looking at how good a starting point guard Bledsoe is the stretch he started due to Chris Paul being out with a bruised knee. He averaged 15 points, 5.8 assists and 4.7 rebounds per game over nine games. For any first-year starter those are good numbers. Unfortunately he shot an abysmal 40 percent during that stretch.
Where he needs to improve most to make this jump the Phoenix Suns desperately needs him to make? Offense. At 3.2 attempts per game, Bledsoe shot 59 percent at the rim (HoopData). That’s five percent below the league average of 64.6. And as far as his jump shot goes, the fourth year has a long ways to go. Only two points guards (Alexey Shved, Kyle Lowry) who played in 40+ games and averaged 20 minutes per night shot worse from 16-23 feet than Eric Bledsoe who clocked in at 29 percent. NBA Stats has Bledsoe shooting 29 percent on mid-range jumpers.
On the positive side of things he was an excellent scorer off of cuts which bodes well for the dual point guard lineups Phoenix will look to use. And in other areas Bledsoe is set. I could make an argument that he’s the best defensive point guard in the NBA, he grabs 11.1 percent of available rebounds when on the floor and is the second best shot blocking guard behind Dwyane Wade.
The Suns have a nice project on their hands. If he mets the potential Bledsoe will be the star everyone is projecting him to be, but he has a few hurdles to jump before reaching that stage. Looking at the state of the Suns franchise they have time to wait.