Many people praised Eric Bledsoe while he was playing backup to Chris Paul with the Los Angeles Clippers over his first few years in the NBA. As a change-of-pace guard for the Clips, Bledsoe was fantastic and helped keep a fast-paced offense going with the reserves. The general consensus was that Bledsoe was biding time until he could go and be a successful starter elsewhere in the league.
As a man not afraid to admit his flaws, I was not part of the majority in terms of my opinion on Bledsoe. Though I liked what he brought to the table in L.A., I thought his play as an athletic guard made him poor man’s Russell Westbrook at best, which to me seemed like a style of play more suited for a career-backup rather than a starting point guard.
Since coming to the Phoenix Suns this season, though, he’s done everything short of calling me by name or sending me spiteful messages to make me look like a fool. In 18 games this season, Bledsoe is averaging 19.2 points, 6.4 assists, 4.3 rebounds and 1.7 steals in 34.5 minutes per game while shooting a quite impressive 48.4 percent from the floor and shooting 33.3 percent from three, the one minor chink in his armor this season.
What’s been fantastic to watch is Bledsoe play in isolation this season. He presents such a threat to perimeter defenders because he’s so strong, athletic and quick that players at his position really don’t have the tools to hang with him. He can shoot, blow by players, and also use his ball-handling to create space for a shot. There’s a reason that he’s second in the league this season in terms of points per possession in isolation sets—it’s near impossible to defend him in those situations.
Bledsoe is more than just an isolation player, though. Defenses realize his ability to score in isolation and in other sets as well, which is when he shows off his ability as a playmaker in terms of his passing. It’s never fun to admit when you’re wrong, but I was unequivocally wrong about Bledsoe. From what we’ve seen in Phoenix, he’s the real thing and far from a career-backup.