Fantasy Basketball 2013: Eric Bledsoe Amid Breakout Year
A talented, young player on a bad team.
When it comes to fantasy basketball, there is nothing better.
When 23-year old guard Eric Bledsoe was traded to the Phoenix Suns in the offseason, everyone knew that his immediate fantasy value was going to skyrocket. We have always seen the immense talent he has, but playing behind the likes of Chris Paul and Jamal Crawford in Los Angeles hindered his production. Still, in 12 starts with the Clippers last season, Bledsoe averaging a strong 14.2 points, 4.8 rebounds, 5.3 assists, 2.3 steals and 1.3 blocks. It’s easy to see why everyone was expecting a breakout campaign from Bledsoe in 2013.
So far, he hasn’t disappointed.
Through six games, Bledsoe is off to a scorching start, averaging 20.3 points, 7.5 assists and 4.5 rebounds per game. Those numbers are good enough for him to rank 10th overall on ESPN’s Player Rater. He’s scored at least 20 points in half of his games, and has posted at least five assists in every game this season. Because Phoenix lacks a ton of talent, Bledsoe will be asked to log a ton of minutes this season, and is already averaging 34 minutes per contest this year. His aggressive play is giving him better, more efficient opportunities to score points, which, as a result, is benefiting fantasy owners.
Similar to my write-up on Monta Ellis, Bledsoe is also taking advantage of driving to the basket. Bledsoe is averaging almost seven drives per game, resulting in 37 points on those drives, which is the sixth-most in the league right now. Not only is he scoring on drives, but he is getting to the free-throw line, which bodes well for his fantasy prospects. Bledsoe is currently averaging 7.3 free-throw attempts per game, which is the ninth-most in basketball. When you get that type of scoring opportunity and volume, the scoring numbers should reflect that, and in Bledsoe’s case, it certainly has. 6.2 of his 20.3 points per game are coming off of drives to the basket, and if he maintains that mentality, he should easily average at least 20 points per contest for the rest of the year.
Obviously, players need the ball to score points. Yes, I know my hard-hitting analysis is impressive. Anyway, Bledsoe is a crucial asset to the Suns, and the offense may run through him, especially with point guard Goran Dragic dealing with a nagging ankle injury. Bledsoe is currently averaging a healthy 80.2 offensive touches per game, which is 15th-most in the league. He is averaging close to seven total minutes of possession time this season, and is averaging 0.25 points per touch. He is also averaging almost 14 shots per game, which is a respectable number.
Bledsoe is an incredible talent, and with mediocre talent surrounding him, he’ll be asked to do a ton for the Suns in 2013.
Fantasy owners are more than fine with that.
*Stats provided by NBA.com
Adam Pfeifer is a featured fantasy sports columnist for Rant Sports.
You can follow him on Twitter @aPfeiferRS.