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Eric Bledsoe

The NBA’s biggest surprises, halfway through the season–Part 2

Yesterday, we took a look at some of the biggest surprises for this half-NBA season, including the surprising mediocrity of the Charlotte Bobcats and Minnesota Timberwolves (but perhaps not in the same context) and just how terrible the Brooklyn Nets are. Peep the second half right here!
 
Portland’s excellence despite their defensive shortcomings
 
Under almost any metric you can interpret, the Portland Trail Blazers are the best offense in the NBA. Led by Damian Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge, they can beat you in almost any fashion. They are willing and accurate three-point shooters, deadly from mid-range and potent in almost every rotation with guys like Mo Williams, Dorell Wright and now C.J. McCollum. The numbers are all there—they have the most offensively versatile starting five in the NBA and a very good bench behind them. In that sense, it’s no surprise they have the fifth best record in the NBA.
 
But defensively they’re not very good. They allow the 4th most points per game, coming in 22nd in defensive efficiency. They are the worst squad in the NBA at forcing turnovers and 22nd in opponent’s offensive rebounding numbers. Luckily, this team scores so well that they’re not often penalized for their defensive lapses. In many ways, they’re the lucky versions of the Minnesota Timberwolves—high scoring, efficient but with two closers at the end of games instead of Minny’s one. Portland could very well continue to thrive during the regular season, but I’m not sure how well they’ll fare during the playoffs with such mediocre to poor defensive scheme.
 
The completeness of Lance Stephenson
 
“Born Ready” Lance Stephenson was a Brooklyn, NY playground prospect, whose legend and skillset earned him a spot as one of the most highly recruited teenagers in the country. After spending one very mediocre season at the University of Cincinnati that was marred with rumors of him being difficult to coach, Stephenson made the jump to the NBA. Unsurprisingly, he was drafted 40th overall in the 2009 NBA Draft by Larry Bird and the Indiana Pacers. His per game numbers in his first two NBA seasons were extremely uninspiring (just 54 total games played with averages of 2.6/1.3/1.2), especially for two decent, but unspectacular NBA squads. There was no doubt that he could be a very good pro defender, but it seemed that a player like Tony Allen was his comparative ceiling.… Read more...

Can Dragic and Bledsoe work? Phoenix Suns Season Preview

Starting Five: PG Goran Dragic, SG Eric Bledsoe, SF Gerald Green, PF A Morris brother, C Alex Len
 
Key Bench Players: F The other Morris brother, F/C Channing Frye, C Emeka Okafor, G/F Gerald Green
 
Offseason Additions: Gerald Green, Eric Bledsoe
 
Offseason Subtractions:  C Marcin Gortat, SF Jared Dudley, SG Shannon Brown, PG Kendall Marshall, PF Luis Scola, C Jermaine O’Neal, PF Michael Beasley, PG Sebastian Telfair
 
FACT OR FICTION: Eric Bledsoe and Goran Dragic will work as two starting point guards.
 
FICTION. And I think everyone knows that. Including the Phoenix Suns.
 
It seems like writing “the Phoenix Suns have invested their future in Dragic and Bledsoe” is the easiest and most natural discourse to write for this preview. But that couldn’t be further from the truth.… Read more...

Instant Trade Analysis: Eric Bledsoe to Phoenix, Jared Dudley and JJ Redick to the Clippers

The Clippers get: SF Jared Dudley (pride of the Boston College Eagles) and SG JJ Redick
 
Phoenix Suns get: PG Eric Bledsoe, SF Caron Butler
 
Milwaukee Bucks get: Two second round picks
 
We live in a world where endless information is at your fingertips. Where scientists have the ability to clone other humans, but choose not to because of moral quandries. When people can realistically think about traveling to Mars. Mars!
 
We also live in a time where the Clippers are dangerously close to becoming championship contenders. A truly, truly wondrous moment in human history. Incredible, remarkable, disgusting. That’s how to mark today’s events.
 
After much speculation, the Clippers finally traded back-up point guard Eric Bledsoe, along with forward Caron Butler (and most importantly his $8 million dollar salary) in a deal with the Phoenix Suns. In return, the Clips received former Milwaukee Bucks guard JJ Redick (who will be sign and traded with a new, four year, $27 million dollar contract) and the finest professional basketball player ever to come out of The Heights, forward Jared Dudley. For their participation in getting Redick slightly more money by the S&T transaction, the Bucks will receive two 2nd round picks for their troubles.… Read more...

The Unenviable Problems of the Los Angels Clippers

The Los Angeles Clippers are already experiencing the greatest season in franchise history.
 
From nearly any viewpoint, the team has never flown at these heights of on or off court success. For just their second time in Donald T. Sterling’s ownership, the Clips have not one, but two starters in the All-Star game in Chris Paul and Blake Griffin. They are playing at a .679 winning percentage, which is almost 80 points higher than their second-best record in over three decades of basketball. At 36-16, if the Clippers lost every game for the rest of the season, they’d still be tied for the 8th highest win total in their franchise’s history.
 
Looking into the future, if the team keeps it’s current trajectory, they will not only attain a top-4 seed for the first time and home court advantage in the playoffs for just the second time, but seem to be on their way towards capturing their maiden Pacific Division banner.
 
Most importantly, this season was the first time ever, at any in point in any season, where the casual basketball fan could say “the LA Clippers are the best team in the league.” That’s not hyperbole or exaggeration; the Clips have never been good enough in their entire existence as a franchise at any moment in time where someone could mention their name at the top of the league. Quite incredible.
 
But the present isn’t just what has Clippers fans excited–it’s the future. After years of squandering draft selections with titanically busted picks, signing over-priced free agents that no one else wanted and allowing players to walk and flourish elsewhere, the Red, White and Blue have finally given their long suffering followers a reason to hope.
 
It all starts with the top; Chris Paul holds high the belt as the undisputed point guard champion, no discount double check necessary. Blake Griffin has his detractors–count MAMBINO amongst them–but he’s only in his third season at the age of 22 with two All-Star berths and a 2nd Team All-NBA nod to his name. Even as his post game, jump shot, free throw shooting and defense leave a Kia-sized raft of shortcomings to be desired, Griffin still has years to grow into a true dominator.
 
The rest of the squad looks teeming with talent. DeAndre Jordan performs at times like the $43 million he signed for, providing the defense and shot blocking that drew comparisons to Tyson Chandler two years ago. Eric Bledsoe came to the Clippers from the Thunder in a rare lapse of judgment from Jedi Master Sam Presti. Chris Paul’s back-up has turned into one of the league’s finest back court defenders and one of the brightest prospects in the NBA. Jamal Crawford has been shockingly fantastic this year after a much maligned full mid-level exception signing, providing some of the playmaking that no other Clipper besides CP3 has been able to bring onto the table. Meanwhile, Matt Barnes continues to play career-best ball and Lamar Odom, Caron Butler, Grant Hill and Willie Green perform their supporting roles well, even at a combined price of around $19 million.
 
Put this all together? You’ve got a championship contending team. The Clippers play like few incarnations ever have before it, locking down oppositions in the half court set, destroying oppositions in transition and relying heavily on two seemingly unstoppable All-Stars. Moreover, the Clips seem to have the room and assets to improve; Eric Bledsoe’s days with the team seem limited with free agent-to-be C… Read more...