This is a preview of the Los Angeles Clippers backup point guard, Eric Bledsoe. He will be entering his third season in the NBA with the Clippers organization, after being drafted in the first round of the 2010 NBA draft out of the University of Kentucky.
He was at Kentucky for just one season, where he was the backup point guard to John Wall. Bledsoe is still waiting patiently for his opportunity to be a starter somewhere, it just won’t happen anytime soon with Chris Paul starting at point guard. He played in just 40 games last season, missing the first 23 games after undergoing a surgery on his right knee to repair a torn lateral meniscus. In those 40 games he averaged 11.6 minutes, 3.3 points, 1.7 assists, and 1.6 rebounds per game. It was hard for Bledsoe to earn minutes last season with the Clippers depth at the point guard position, Paul, Mo Williams, Chauncey Billups, and Randy Foye were all on the 2011-2012 roster. However, Bledsoe rose to the occasion when he got playing time in the 2011-2012 playoffs, averaging 17.2 minutes, 7. 9 points, 2.1 assists, and 2.4 rebounds in 11 games.
This season should be a lot different for the 22-year-old point guard, with the departures of Williams and Foye this off-season. Bledsoe will now be the first guy off the bench to replace Paul during games, which was a role held by Williams last season. This role will definitely increase the amount of minutes he will get during the 2012-2013 season.
Bledsoe will give the Clippers a lot of good in this new role, while giving opponents nightmares as a 6’1” athletic point guard. He had a couple of games in the western conference semifinals against the San Antonio Spurs last season where he kept the Clippers in the game with his scoring ability, with 23 points in Game one and 17 points in Game four, off the bench. In that series alone against the Spurs he shot 70 percent from the field and 50 percent from behind-the-arc. So he can be a scoring threat off the bench, but that’s not all he can do.
It’s on defense where Bledsoe frustrates his opponents. He is an excellent on-ball defender and can force turnovers. On the defensive end of the floor, Bledsoe also has a rare ability at his size to be able to block shots. In his rookie season he got the Clippers crowd fired up one night when he chased down LeBron James on a fast break and ended up with an electrifying block. (He might be the only player to ever “LeBron’ed” LeBron.)
The struggles for Bledsoe come at the free throw line, where he shot 63 percent last season. This is a major part of his game that he needs to improve on and leave the atrocious free throw shooting to teammates DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin.
2012-2013 Projection: 25.4 MPG, 11.7 PPG, 3.1 APG, 2.3 RPG.
The Clippers should expect a breakout season for Bledsoe in his new role, especially since the team exercised their fourth-year contract option on him last week. This team has plenty of players who can score, so it will be important for Bledsoe to use his aggressive defensive instinct every time he steps on the court during the 2012-2013 season.
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